Olivia Katrandjian

International Armenian Literary Alliance Launches with Reading, Mentorship Program, Poetry Contest and Events


The International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA) will officially launch with a virtual reading by Armenian writers from around the world, hosted on Zoom on March 21, 2021 at 1 pm EDT. At the launch, the 2021 programming, including a mentorship program for emerging Armenian writers, a contest for young Armenian poets, and virtual readings and panel discussions will be unveiled. Admission is free.

JP Der Boghossian (Artyom Tonoyan photo)

At the launch reading, members of IALA’s board of directors and advisory board, and other Armenian writers and poets, will share their work and announce IALA’s mission: to support and celebrate writers by fostering the development and distribution of Armenian literature in the English language. IALA will grow a global Armenian literary community, support established authors and promote their work, and help lift up a new generation of emerging writers. Through readings, panel discussions and interviews, we will celebrate the diverse identities within our community, share Armenian literature with a wider audience and foster intercultural exchange. With support from IALA’s network, literature about the Armenian experience will contribute more widely to global conversations on immigration; racial, ethnic and cultural identities; social and economic class; and gender and sexuality.

“Literature is a vital element of a people and a culture — we are our stories,” says founder Olivia Katrandjian. “As writers, we must support each other if we want to thrive not only as individuals, but as a literary community. As a people, Armenians must support our writers if we want the world to listen to our stories. IALA will provide a platform through which Armenian writers can be heard.”

Shahe Mankerian

Shahé Mankerian will run the first-of-its-kind IALA Mentorship Program in summer 2021, which will provide mentorships for emerging Armenian writers of the novel, memoir, creative nonfiction, short story, and poetry. Mentors will read and provide feedback on their mentee’s writing, and speak virtually with their mentee throughout the two-month program. IALA will host a reading to feature the work of both mentees and mentors. Applications will be available on the IALA website later this year.

“It is exciting to spearhead the Mentorship Program for one great reason: the program will bring together aspiring Armenian writers with established Armenian authors,” says Mankerian. “The guidance from the experienced writer will be invaluable to the budding storyteller.”

Arthur Kayzakian

The inaugural Young Armenian Poets Awards will provide a platform for emerging Armenian writers between the ages of 14-18. Submissions will be read by IALA board members and judges Gregory Djanikian, Mashinka Firunts Hakopian, Alan Semerdjian, and Raffi Wartanian. Awards will be granted for the top three poems, which will be published in the online cultural arts magazine h-pem. Deadline for submission is April 30, 2021.

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“We’re hoping to honor the next generation of Armenian poets with an opportunity to be read and a platform to be recognized for their work,” says director of the contest Alan Semerdjian.

IALA’s board of directors includes Katrandjian, Nancy Agabian, J.P. Der Boghossian, Arthur Kayzakian, Shahé Mankerian, Lola Koundakjian, and Levon Golendukhin. The advisory board includes Alan Semerdjian, Aline Ohanesian, Arlene Avakian, Arevik Ashkharoyan, Arminé Iknadossian, Gregory Djanikian, Lory Bedikian, Mashinka Firunts Hakopian, Nancy Kricorian, Peter Balakian and Raffi Joe Wartanian.

For more information, visit IALA’s website, www.armenianliterary.org, or contact Olivia Katrandjian at olivia@armenianliterary.org.


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