Armen Sargsyan

- Armenia -

Armen Sargsyan was born in 1991, he studied philology, his poems have been published in Armenian and other literary magazines since 2013, like “Granish”, “Gretert”, “Actual Art”, “Literaturnaya Gazeta” (Moscow), “Litavry” (Ukraine), “Kavkazskiy Serpantin” (Georgia) (Armenia)...etc.


In 2016 “Antares” publishing house published Armen Sargsyan’s poetry collection “Instead of Unread Books”  for which he received Republic of Armenia Presidential Youth Award in 2017.


The poems were presented in poetry festivals of Kiev (Ukraine) and Dushanbe (Tajikistan). 


He edited  more than 30 books of foreign and Armenian authors  as like Leopoldo Lugones’s “The Strange Forces”, Roberto Arlt’s “Mad Toy”, John Boyne’s “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”, Charlie Chaplin’s “My Autobiography”, Narine Abgaryan’s “Zulali”, John D. Rockefeller’s “Random Reminiscences of Men and Events” and many other works.


He participated as one of directors representing Armenia in international book fairs of Frankfurt, Leipzig, Bologna, Tehran, Minsk.  


He is the art director of the “Yerevan Book Festival”, which is started from 2017.

The title of the book seems like a double challenge. First of all, the author directly brings himself into a heavy competition arena. And this is with the first book; not yet “settled” in the literary “life”, excuse me in the “field”. As if he announces with great impudence, “The gap I should have filled in by reading geniuses, I am filling in with lines.” We can understand it this way as well, “Taking the place which was assigned to me from the beginning and nobody else can take it but me.” We are not sure if the author put exactly those meanings in the title but this was our perception and we salute his impudence.


Our problem as readers is much simpler; we read the young poet’s first collection before the important books we have planned to read and also with them. Of course, it is not a long one and you can finish it in two hours but it is quite possible that “the demanding” readers who waste their day on meaningless things will not be satisfied because they lost some precious minutes on this book while they could have just enjoyed many other things…
When it comes to us, breaking the order of our planned-to-read books, we read this collection carefully and reread it with pleasure, discovering a new name in the sphere of Armenian poetry. 


From the first pages, the author amazes the reader with his creative maturity. It feels like you are not reading the first collection of the young poet, but at least the third or the fourth and that we see a poet who has come a long way and created his unique “face” and it is hard not to tell apart his lines from the others’. 

We already said that we reread the whole book with pleasure; and some poems several times. Not only because we wanted to write about the collection but also that they resembled beautiful landscapes which are perceived differently at different times of the day. And if with the landscapes the attraction is born out of the ever changing light, in this case the reason is the use of fewer words which can bring up a completely new meaning with every single reading that we missed during the first time we read it. 


French dramatist Jean Anouilh used to say that the most beautiful music is silence when nothing else is playing. The sound is replaced with the word in poetry. “The human is a sin which always speaks through words,” wrote Slavik Chiloyan. He did not mean writing by itself, but “speaking” with actions. And Armen Sargsyan concludes with his love poem (if we can call it that), “the only way out is our silence” and continues at the same time, “we cannot save ourselves from the burden of words.” This means that they should only be used out of necessity, eliminating the unnecessary as much as possible. And let’s remember how Ecclesiastes said that there is vanity in too many words.


In the Armenian contemporary poetry infected with wordiness, sometimes we see philosophical lines reminding proverbs with fewer words. Sometimes successful, sometimes pretentious, unsuccessful. Armen Sargsyan’s short poems are quite different from those with their form, style, modest and delicate taste and unexpected beauty. By the way, the level of vanity is brought up to null.


The autumn gatherers 

swept off my springs and took them
and now 

my wintriness does not have any gloves


Some people will most likely find similarities with Japanese haikus. Probably, if we forget that haikus are supposed to be a cycle with 17 syllables, 3 lines to form the poem, with Armen Sargsyan we see the opposite; the cycle starts at the end after squeezing the poem, getting rid of its emotions, draining it, shaking off the extra words, and so presenting the previous emotional drama in just a few lines. And do we need to rewind it like a film when it is the ending that is important and so beautiful?


The wind

brushed my sadness

my adolescence

got lost

going back and forth 

on the metro


There are also poems where you can read one condensed fabula but the epic story is not the dominant here, rather the turns of different poetic compact pictures and unfinished acts


For someone in the world

the nighttime

is when you return home

with the pitchfork on your shoulder

after you hide the scythe in the harvested grass,

the time when you open the balcony window

for someone

from the outside


The collection consists of relatively long and short (as much as possible) poems that unfortunately are not numbered which would let us see where the author got from the starting point. Maybe they were written simultaneously, maybe one was followed by another; the book does not tell us anything about it. In our opinion compact poems are much more powerful and the wordy ones. The fewer the words, the more important the message and so the poet’s job. With his first book Armen Sargsyan convinces us that we can face difficulties because he strives to show the diamond of the word. But this is just our opinion and not an advice or a command for the poet’s future actions. Especially, when he does not need them. He should listen to his inner voice because he is already walking down his unrumpled road which we think will lead him to new discoveries without getting him off the right path.


Alexander Topchian