By Ara Aharonian
GLENDALE — On the 110th anniversary of the birth of Armenian-American writer William Saroyan, the Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) Los Angeles chapter organized a literary evening dedicated to his work on September 28 at the Glendale Central Library.
TCA chapter chairman Parsegh Kartalian welcomed guests and presented excerpts from Saroyan’s publications. He invited well known reciter Arsho Melikian to read some Armenian translations of Saroyan’s works and then invited poet Khachik Khacher to speak about Saroyan’s oeuvre. Kacher then read letters sent by the president of the Writers Union of the Republic of Armenia, Eduard Melitonyan and the president of the Writers Union of Mountainous Karabakh, Vardan Hakobyan.
Salpy and Sossy Kerkonian provided a musical dimension to the evening by performing two pieces on harp and flute. They were followed by keynote speaker Prof. Osheen Keshishian, editor of the Armenian Observer weekly newspaper, who spoke on the stages of Saroyan’s life. Saroyan lost his Bitlis-born father at the age of 3 and was left to the care of his mother in Fresno. Without graduating high school, he became a self-made writer.
Keshishian spoke about his friendship with Saroyan’s children, Aram and Lucy, and spoke about the literary work of the former. William Saroyan participated in the 1935 writers conference in Soviet Armenia and visited Moscow. He made additional visits to Soviet Armenia over the years and became familiar with Soviet Armenian writers. When he died at the age of 73, according to his wishes, half of his ashes were brought to Armenia and interred on May 29, 1981 at the pantheon of writers. Karen Demirchyan, Vardges Petrosyan and Keshishian participated in the ceremony.
At the end of the program, the guests were provided printed copies of a special interview conducted by Keshishian with Saroyan in the 1970s and viewed photos provided by Keshishian and placed at the entrance of the hall.