Hamazkayin Vahe Oshagan Literary Fund Established

PHILADELPHIA–The Central Committee of the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society and the Oshagan family have established the Hamazkayin Vahe Oshagan Literary Fund for the purpose of publishing Vahe Oshagan’s unpublished works.

Vahe Oshagan (1921-2000) is regarded as the single most significant Armenian poet of the past quarter century whose verse signals the start of a truly modern Armenian poetry. His literary oeuvre–which also includes prose and dramatic works–constitutes the most accomplished and imaginative understanding and expression of the Armenian Diaspora as it has grown–struggled and survived over the last 50 years. Dr. Marc Nichanian–professor of Armenian studies at Columbia University–calls Vahe Oshagan `the most important poet of this generation.’

Vahe Oshagan’s life was shaped by dispersion and infused with immense creativity. He was born in Plovdiv–Bulgaria–in 1921–the son of the 20th century’s pre-eminent Armenian novelist and critic Hagop Oshagan and Araxie Astardjian Oshagan. He was raised in Cyprus and Jerusalem and studied in France–where he received a doctorate in comparative literature from the Sorbonne. In 1952–settled in Beirut where he taught Armenian–French and English literature at various universities and colleges and wrote his early works of poetry. Among these–The City (1963)–described by Nichanian as `the most radical book of Armenian poetry in the 20th century," stands in stark contrast to traditional poetic constraints and whose spirit of innovation and regeneration pervades all of Vahe Oshagan’s writings.

At the start of the Lebanese civil war in 1975–he moved to Philadelphia–where he taught at the University of Pennsylvania and continued writing and publishing poetry and prose. In the 1980s and 1990s he lived in San Francisco and Sydney–Australia–before returning to Philadelphia in 1998. Eight books of poetry–three books of prose–two plays–one monograph and one collection of works bear his name as well as countless scholarly publications–newspaper articles–essays and public speeches.

In its themes and methods–Vahe Oshagan’s body of work is a bridge connecting the generation of exile and the generation of the Diaspora. As such–it is an imaginative–uncompromisingly modern and deeply human’stic panorama of the Armenian nation in the modern world. The Fund’s mission is to make this body of work available to the Armenian reading public by publishing Vahe Oshagan’s numerous unpublished man’scripts–including the following:

* A textual/photographic memoir of Karabakh – a collaborative effort with his son Ara Oshagan–which is currently being translated into English by his son Hayg Oshagan.

* Two books of poetry

* Two complete plays

* A full-length novel

* A book of short prose

* A 600-page dissertation on the Armenian novel from 1850 to 1930 that remains a definitive work in Armenian studies.

* Essays–criticism and commentary published in the Armenian press worldwide–including the 15-year-long Literary Chronicles or Kragan Kronik published weekly in Asbarez–which constitute an invaluable portrait of Armenian literature and intellectual life.

* The first two volumes of a five-volume unfinished epic novel

The Fund also intends to translate Vahe Oshagan’s work into other languages–to republish important volumes long out of print–and to edit and publish his large collection of letters that spans 50 years and includes exchanges with almost every notable contemporary Armenian writer and intellectual. Once these projects are completed–the Fund will turn to publishing Hagop Oshagan’s remaining unpublished works–a project to which Vahe Oshagan dedicated himself in the last years of his life.

The Fund will be administered by a board made up of two representatives from Hamazkayin (regional and international) and three members of the Oshagan family: Vahe Oshagan’s wife–Arsine and his two sons–Hayg and Ara.

Donations to the Fund are tax-deductible in the USA. Hamazkayin Vahe Oshagan Literary Fund can be contacted at: 424 Meadowcroft Road–Radnor–PA 19087–USA. For more information about the Fund–please call (818)558-8895 or (610)525-8578 or email to araoshagan@yahoo.com or voshagan@msn.com.

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