By Sharisse Zeroonian
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
BELMONT, Mass. — On Saturday, June 17, lovers of literature came from far and wide on Zoom to attend this month’s iteration of the “Literary Lights” reading series. The series, curated by the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA), and the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center in New York, primarily highlights authors of Armenian descent and gives them a platform to share their work in a public setting.
This edition featured author Arthur Kayzakian in conversation with poet Kaveh Akbar. Kayzakian discussed his most recent book, The Book of Redacted Paintings, the form of which combines poetry, prose, and visual art. According to the IALA’s Literary Lights web page, the story “takes place in the present day yet alludes to the Iranian Revolution.” The plot centers around a young man looking for his father’s painting — which may or may not actually exist. The book, a poetry collection, also includes pictures of various paintings which are all either real, incomplete, and/or missing, but most of them have been totally erased — or, as the book’s title denotes, “redacted” from history. The concept of redacted paintings is meant to be a stylistic reflection of what can happen to the human psyche in the aftermath of trauma – specifically, the phenomenon of grieving certain lost aspects of the human experience.
“When Arthur first came, he was this new guy with this new voice and incredible ideas….. seeing his work now and reading his book has been so exciting for me…” Shahe Mankerian told viewers at the beginning of the event. “….I saw some of these poems actually take birth at….. gatherings with our friends”.
After being introduced by Mankerian, the two writers, who are friends and fervent supporters of each other’s work, gave some background information about how they came to be acquainted both professionally and socially.