Hyebred cover

Hyebred Offers Creative Outlet for Poets, Artists Exploring Heritage


By Taleen Postian

Special to the Mirror-Spectator

I first came across Hyebred, a bi-annual, not-for-profit, online literary magazine when I was in my freshman year of college. I was looking for magazines and journals to publish my poetry, many of which covered themes of being a part of the Armenian diaspora and my life as an Armenian-American woman. After accumulating a long list of online literary magazines, I found Hyebred, intended by founder, Rafaella Safarian, to serve as “a literary magazine that caters to the Armenian people.”

The name itself, a portmanteau of Hye meaning Armenian and bred, referring to upbringing, is immediately recognizable to the Armenian community. The sense of shared Armenian identity and sharing that identity is what drives the team behind this magazine, “being Armenian is something I think about every day; it influences who I am, my writing, and my decisions…HyeBred shows me that I’m not alone in that; being Armenian permeates through our contributors’ lives as well as their craft,” explained Safarian.

Rafaella Safarian

The online magazine is produced by a team of Armenian creatives. Operating Hyebred is a second job for many on the team, including a graphic designer, editors, an actor and a lawyer. But all 10 team members come together in the spirit of showcasing “the talent of our generation and the generations to come,” Safarian continued, “Armenian artists, writers, filmmakers, and musicians are out there. We need to give them a voice.”

But why work for an online magazine that is only beginning to grow its audience in an online format that many Armenian traditionalists in the art world don’t look to? John Danho, the poetry editor for the magazine explained, “The material published in HyeBred helped me along my own journey as an Armenian. It’s shown me I’m not alone, and so the work I do with HyeBred is first and foremost ‘How can I amplify these voices?” Film/Music Editor Nour-Ani Sisserian continued,  “I believe it is important to connect with artists with whom you share a similar culture, trauma [and] drive to make our voices heard.”

Nour-Ani Sisserian

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To describe the necessity of creative outlets like Hyebred, Sisserian outlined a scenario all Armenians are familiar with, “we all look for Armenian names in a film’s credits and get excited when we see one (it’s usually only one).” In a quote explaining her view on how art is valued within the Armenian community, she delivers a solution to her earlier complaint about the lack of Armenian representation in artistic fields, “I wish we realized that art belongs to the “here and now” and that we have talented Armenians who want their work to be visible. In Armenia, people love to go to the theatre because it is entertaining but the quality of work doesn’t allow them to be critical of their way of life, to think deeper, to debate. Censorship and lack of finances are mainly responsible for this. Alternative art scenes are almost non-existent and this is why we need the support of our community and also create work within ourselves to have more than one “ian” in the credits.”

Sisserian proposed Hyebred is one answer to the acknowledged lack of “ians” in movie credits, an issue representative of a larger lack of appreciation and platforms for modern and inventive Armenian art. And they are already making headway, Sisserian noted: “My 14 year old student, who studies writing at TUMO from a remote village in Armenia, was published in our last issue. I would love the magazine to be accessible to as many people as possible to make these kinds of voices heard.”

Art by Lena Halteh

The Hyebred team sees a bright future ahead, with each issue receiving more submissions than the last. Sisserian divulged that she “would love for Hyebred to go beyond the young generation and team up with literary magazines that are read by the diaspora and where noted authors are published like Pakin, for example. It’s important that the generations before us know that we are carrying on the work.”

Danho added that he would “love to work with the Hye-Phen Magazine and also collaborate with the International Armenian Literary Alliance.”

When asked what role within the broad and historied sphere of Armenian art Hyebred occupied, Danho supplied more than a simple answer, he provided an address: “44 Bebutov Street, Tiflis, Vernatun. This was the literary/art group that Hovhannes Tumanyan started in his home, gathering artists and writers to meet and discuss and commiserate years before the Genocide. If HyeBred has to occupy a role in the storied history of Armenian art, it would be as one of the members of this group, coming and going as time and circumstances allow — one among so many, each with rich perspectives to ply and play with.”

The ambitions of the Hyebred team are evident, but being the voice of an ethnic group that is defined by their ambitiousness and tenacity to provide for their families, is difficult, with art not often being a field that Armenian youth are encouraged to enter.

Another creation by Lena Halteh

Danho explained this conflict, saying, “I want HyeBred to be the space of interaction that makes art, writing, film, and Armenian Expression to be more palatable to the masses — a place where one can celebrate the having AND the doing of art within our culture, without the prerequisite or predestination of profit in mind, and a place where those outside the Armenian community get a good look inside to see its merits, virtues, and beauty.”

Rafaella elaborated, saying that to achieve the celebration of art, we need to support the community producing it, “HyeBred’s community is a very supportive collective. The more we support each other’s work, the more value we as Armenians give to the art our people are creating.”

With their tenth issue forthcoming, Hyebred is ready to usher in the next generation of Armenian painters, writers, poets, filmmakers, musicians, and artists. They hope you join them in celebrating these new additions to the historic tapestry of Armenian art.

For those interested in reading an issue of the magazine but don’t know where to start, the team has some favorites. For poetry Danho suggested “What the Soil Knows” by Nvard Tadevosyan from their ninth issue, “Rebirth.” For those who are looking for visual art, there are Lena Halteh’s illustrations in “Isolation/Utopia” in the eighth. And for more of a wildcard, there is the sci-fi short story “Nor Akhuri” by Araxie Cass. To be a part of the magazine as a contributor, the team welcomes submissions on their website, https://hyebredmag.com/submit.

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