From left, Vardouhi Karajian, Sargis Gavlakian and Gavlakian’s mother Shake pour wine on the new book

Sargis Gavlakian’s Book Moruk-Tzuki hekiatnere and His Poetic Spirit Celebrated by Tekeyan Cultural Association at the Armenian Cultural Foundation

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ARLINGTON, Mass. – Sargis Gavlakian’s book Moruk-Tzuki hekiatnere: hekiatner bolori hamar [Tales of Beardo: Tales for All] was celebrated on June 15 in a program presented by the Tekeyan Cultural Association [TCA] Greater Boston Chapter and cosponsored by the Armenian Cultural Foundation at the latter’s Arlington building. It was an emotional evening, as the publication of this book represents the triumph of Gavlakian’s will, and the creative will in general, over prolonged adversity, with the ongoing support of Gavlakian’s family and friends.

Sargis Gavlakian, left, with Avik Derentz Deirmenjian

Aram Arkun, TCA Executive Director, served as master of ceremonies and presented the biographies of the author as well as keynote speaker Avik Derentz Deirmenjian.

Author Gavlakian, born in Yerevan in 1962, graduated High School No. 139 and received his higher education at the Valery Bryusov Pedagogical Institute for Foreign Languages. He worked in Nerkin Sasnashen village in the region of Talin as an English teacher in high school from 1986 to 1989, but in 1990 moved to the United States with his family. He taught Armenian in Boston at the Armenian General Benevolent Union school, and published two books of his poems, Karkarot erkri aghotknere [The Prayers of a Rocky Land] (1991) and Inch sarn es lusin [How Cold You Are, Moon] (1993).

In 1996 he moved to Fresno, California, where he published through his own means the monthly Yergink from 1997 to 1998, and initiated a radio program called “Arpy,” while working from 2001 to 2007 in the state welfare department in Fresno. In 2004, he completed a master’s degree at Fresno National University in public administration. He moved back to Boston in 2010. He was a member of the TCA executive in Boston in the 1990s and is again an active member in the reorganized Boston chapter today.

Arkun praised his devotion to Armenian literature and his perseverance in the face of all types of obstacles over many years to continue to write and promote his literary vision. He did what he had to in order to support his family, but never gave up on literature.

The three Gavlakian children proudly holding their father’s work.

Derentz, the owner of Deirmenjian Real Estate LLC, lives in Bedford, Mass. and is a well known figure in the Armenian community. He is a prolific author, having published 15 collections of poetry. His works have been translated into English, Russian and Georgian. He has been published in many periodicals, including Grakan tert of Armenia, the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, the Armenian Weekly, and many periodicals in the Near East. He has prepared CDs which contain recitations by Nvard Mnatsakanyan and Nune Avetisyan, and a CD with songs. Derentz is a member of the Writers Union of Armenia, the Journalists Union of Armenia, Boston’s Armenian Independent Radio Hour board and the Writers Union of California. He has received a medal for faithful participation from the Journalists Union of Armenia and an honorary certificate from the Pan-Armenian Convention of Journalists for aiding in the preservation of Armenian identity in the Diaspora and the development of Armenia-diaspora relations.

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Derentz said that Gavlakian’s motto was to live not to survive but to create. He read sections from the poetic stories of Moruk-Tzuk and interpreted their morals.

A series of video messages from various places around the world were played wishing Gavlakian well, including from his cousin Vatche Kavlakyan, CEO of NDigitec, who published Moruk-Tzuk in Dubai. Margarit Dumanyan, teacher of Armenian language and literature at the Charlie Keyan Armenian Community School and principal of the St. Paul Armenian Church Saturday School, both in Fresno, worked on Yergink monthly with Gavlakian when Moruk-Tzuk was being written. Tigran Nikoghosyan, editor-in-chief of Hayastan newspaper, knew Gavlakian when he was a teacher in Talin and was present in Boston at the presentation of Gavlakian’s first book. Khachik Melekyan was a childhood friend who now is a teacher in Los Angeles, journalist in Asbarez and a former editor of Yerevan monthly. Melekyan pointed out that Moruk-Tzuk is for adults as well as for children. Samvel Yervinyan, a violinist living in Las Vegas, also spoke words of congratulation via video.

A written message from Edmond Y. Azadian, the president of the TCA Central Board and a well known literary critic, was read by TCA Boston executive member Masis Parunyan. Azadian wrote, “Sargis Gavlakian in this volume of his successfully enters into the world of children and by means of his rich imagination leads them to remote places. His language has a Toumanian-like fluidity and his rhymes and versification are simply wonderful. Moruk-Tzuk is a new treasure in our children’s literature, where masters are few.”

Gavlakian’s wife, Vardouhi Karajian, thanked her husband not only for educating his own children but also the children of many other families. He was tormented by his desire to promote Armenian culture on foreign shores and among other Armenians living in the US.  She promised to remain by his side for all his future labors for this goal. She called Moruk-Tzuk his spiritual child, and then read an excerpt, to the piano accompaniment of Gegham Markarian.

Emma Arwen, a talented young singer who also happens to be a dentist by profession, only arrived two hours prior to the event from Armenia in order to sing two songs with lyrics by Gavlakian. The music of the first song was written by Artem Arpinyan and the second by Gavlakian himself.  Arwen is a graduate of Yerevan State Medical University who furthered her education in Germany and has also studied psychology.

Singer Emma Arwen pouring wine on Gavlakian’s new book

The second musical portion of the program was provided by Gegham Margarian, a graduate of Yerevan’s Polytechnic Institute, and an accomplished musician. He performed pieces by Arno Babajanian and Tigran Mansurian.

Gavlakian took to the podium and began by thanking his wife and three children for their support and understanding of his poetic calling. His eldest son Hovik together with his wife Lusine initiated the publication of this book. He spoke of the difficulties of a writer in Armenian of poetry living in the United States, which makes the circle of readers extremely narrow and small. Nonetheless, Gavlakian said he continues in this work of “holy crazymen.” He thanked TCA and Ara Ghazarians of the Armenian Cultural Foundation for making the evening possible along with all the participants of the program, and Sarkis Antreassian and Mihran Minassian for giving him the idea of the book presentation.

Gavlakian then surprised the crowd by reciting a new poem, “The Light of Existence,” which he recently wrote. This was the first poem he had been able to write since 2015. He then read several of his older poems, with Margarian softly providing the accompaniment of piano music.

After he finished speaking, he answered questions from the audience. In response to how he started writing, he said that his mother’s father was a writer, but not of poetry. He began to write poems from the sixth grade. He declared, “I felt there was a world in me where I felt good….It was not by choice. God put this candle in me.”

He said that this August for the first time in over 31 years he will go to Armenia, and hopefully will have meetings with literary circles there, including with the Writers Union. He hopes to publish several more volumes of his poetry in the future.

The formal program concluded with the baptism with wine of the book. Gavlakian called up his family members, program participants, TCA executive members and Ara Ghazarians to participate. Afterwards, guests enjoyed a reception.

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