University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies
chgs@umn.edu
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CHGS

  • Apo Torosyan : Poems

    Poems

    "Discovering My Father's Village - Edincik"

    Apo Torosyan is a second-generation genocide survivor, and an artist. This "poetic documentary" is about the artist's roots in Turkey, an analysis of the Armenian genocide, and the relationship between Turkey and the Armenians throughout history and today.

    The Armenian genocide was a planned extermination conducted by the government under the former Ottoman Empire with the assistance of the public in many parts of Turkey. In 1894-1896, the lives of 200,000 Armenian citizens of the Ottoman Empire were claimed by deliberate massacre. The second and largest massacre of 1915 claimed the lives of 1.5 million Armenian Ottoman citizens, including innocent children, women and elderly people as well as young men of military age. This was the first genocide of the 20th century. The violent deaths of all of these people still haunt the Turkish and Armenian people in different ways. The Turkish government still has not officially recognized this crime against humanity.

    In this movie, you will see three witnesses, directly or indirectly talking about the Armenian genocide of 1915 and 1922, and the discrimination against Armenians in Turkey.

    One character in the movie is the artist's 90 year-old aunt, Nazik. She recalls the bloody events in which her relatives and other youngsters around age 18 were killed by the government- organized bandits. In another part of her interview, she talks about the gold and jewelry, which took the place of paper money in those days. Armenians hid the gold and jewelry in their homes when they escaped for their lives. They never returned to their village. The Turkish villagers found the gold and jewelry after they moved into the abandoned homes.

    The second witness is an elderly villager named Hamza. In his interview, he talks about recent economic hard times in the village. He speaks with gratitude of how his parents and grandparents cashed in the gold and jewelry to survive over the past 20-30 years.

    The third character in the film is a local historian. At one point he talks about the bandits that existed in the area. At another point, he shows the current Turkish pre-judgment and perspective about the history of Armenians. He discusses history with no basis in facts, but with organized misinformation.

    - Apo Torosyan

    Seven Eleven D

    Is that
    What it is?
    A gray
    Marble stone
    In the ground
    With
    Some standard carvings Name
    Date
    Weathered
    Soil
    Or
    Is it
    A dash
    A small line
    Between
    Two dates
    With
    Dried up
    Flower stems
    From
    The last visit.
    Is that
    What it is?

    When I Think Of You

    When I think of you
    A pebble
    Warms up within me . . .
    A light
    Starts blinking
    At the end of the tunnel
    The rain drops
    Become
    The river of hope
    The sound
    Metaphors
    Into a whisper of love
    The air
    Reminds
    The only thing I can share
    The night
    Like the weight of Atlas
    Gets heavier
    My soul
    Becomes
    The only companion.
    When I think of you
    A pebble
    Warms up within me . . .

    It

    It is a piggyback ride.
    Carry it with me all the time.
    It is the pillow in my car,
         the coat on by back,
                     storms in my brain.
    It is a breeze sometimes,
         an obstacle lots of times.
    I take it with me all the time.
         Going to the bathroom,
                     it is with me.
    Stretching the canvas,
         it is in every staple.
    Brush strokes taken over by it.
    The white surface,
         recipient,
                     reflector of it.
    My pen buckles,
         looses control,
                     scribbles,
                                 rushes
                                         unreadable.
    I hear it within my footsteps,
         the drag of it
                     with it
    My adrenaline floats,
         it rolls with it,
                     accelerates.
    Sunset becomes more intense,
    More than mother nature intends to do.
    I breath with it.
         My heart pounds,
                     existence becomes more aware
                                 of it ...
    I don't search for my shadow,
    It is within me.
    Light cannot penetrate
         even it is light as a feather,
                     at times heavy as an elephant.
    It becomes a scribble,
         a habit,
                     unthinkable,
                                 indescribable
                                          but solid.
    Confusing but not hesitant.
    No music can compete with it.
    Not one dissonant sound can create more cacophony than itself.
    The metamorphosis becomes the pebble.
         The pebble becomes me . . .
    My solitude
         disturbed
                     provoked.
    My veins pucker,
         I try to understand it.
                     I don't.
         I try to accept it.
                     I don't.
         I try to fight it.
                     I can't
    It is a piggyback ride . . .

    It's Magic

    It is magic
    To see the light
    To hear the sound
    To feel the warmth
    It is magic
    To stand
    To put a step
    After the other
    To follow
    One of the other
    To talk
    To each other
    It is magic
    To think
    To feel
    To miss
    To write
    Empty

    It is magic
    To start
    To finish
    In between
    And
    Forever
    Love...