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Bloody News from My Friend: Poems by Siamanto Paperback – November 1, 1996

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Book Description

A cycle of poems depicting the attrocities committed during the Armenian genocide.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Armenian
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Wayne State University Press (November 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814326404
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814326404
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,001,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
In his insightful and informative introduction, the Armenian-American poet Peter Balakian (author of "Sad Days of Light" and "Dyer's Thistle," of the award-winning memoir "Black Dog of Fate," and of a history of the Armenian Genocide, "The Burning Tigris") places Adom Yarjanian (Siamanto) and his poetry in its specific historical and literary context. Balakian traces Siamanto's development as activist and poet back to the author's days as a student in Istanbul and on the Continent, from where Siamanto not only gathered a more comprehensive grasp of issues such as nationalism, revolution, and an overview of the bruyant political makeup of fin-de-siècle Europe, but from where he also learned to revisit and renew the cultural atmosphere of his Armenia (to put it on the literary map, as it were) by writing his European influences into his own work.
Balakian's efforts to situate Siamanto as an avant-garde artist is done judiciously. We are asked to see Siamanto's slim but important work as something which must have caused something of a scandle. His poetry was as novel and experimental as any Armenia had seen up until the Adana massacres of 1909; the subject matter and its delivery, moreover, was demanding and unforgiving, certainly a far cry from the romantic lyricism that had established itself in the Armenian cultural circles of the day (carbon copies of European Romanticism: Hugo, Shelley, Byron).
In "Bloody News From My Friend," readers are prompted to consider the imagination as a palimpsest upon which a violent history has left its imprint. The twelve poems here are sketches of individual voices lost in the wilderness.
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Format: Paperback
Although the Armenian poet Siamanto was executed by the Turkish government on April 24,1915, the poems he wrote after reading eye-witness letters of the 1909 Adana, Turkey, massacre of Armenians could have been written yesterday.
Even in translation, Siamanto's lines slam into the reader with the force of a MACK truck. He writes of man's inhumanity to man, of sadistic rage and extermination by fire, torture and the sword which has been, and continues to be the darkest side of mankind. His language is blunt, harsh, poetic, the reader unshielded from the horror of this prelude to the 1915 Armenian genocide to come.
In "The Dance" the poetic voice says "Don't be afraid. I must tell you what I saw,/so people will understand/the crimes men do to men./.../An animal of a man shouted, 'You must dance,/dance when our drum beats.'/With fury whips cracked/on the flesh of these women./.../Then someone brought a jug of kerosene./Human justice, I spit in your face..." Such lines could have been written about the genocides in Bosnia, Uganda - anywhere and in any time - and could reflect the anger of any eye-witness - or poet - to the indifference of the civilized world.
Peter Balakian, a poet in his own right, took the literal translations from Armenian and turned them into contemporary lines which, I am convinced, contain the truth, horror and beauty of the original poetry. Some things can be said in no other way than in poetry, and Siamanto's poems are among those. I cry every time I read these poems. You will too, if I'm not mistaken.
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