Literary Lights 2024: Featuring Armen Davoudian

The International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA), the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) and the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center are pleased to invite you to their next 2024 Literary Lights event featuring Armen Davoudian, author of a Publishers Weekly & The Rumpus Most Anticipated Poetry Book of 2024, The Palace of Forty Pillars. Davoudian will be joined by celebrated author and UCLA professor, Anahid Nersessian. The event, co-sponsored by the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI) and The Offing literary magazine, will take place virtually on May 4, 2024 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific | 1:00 p.m. Eastern | 9:00 p.m. Armenia time. Register here.

Wry, tender and formally innovative, Davoudian’s debut poetry collection, The Palace of Forty Pillars, tells the story of a self estranged from the world around him as a gay adolescent, an Armenian in Iran and an immigrant in America. It is a story darkened by the long shadow of global tragedies—the Armenian Genocide, war in the Middle East and the specter of homophobia. With masterful attention to rhyme and meter, these poems also carefully witness the most intimate encounters: the awkward distance between mother and son getting ready in the morning, the delicate balance of power between lovers and a tense exchange with the morality police in Iran.

In Isfahan, Iran, the eponymous palace has only 20 pillars—but, reflected in its courtyard pool, they become 40. This is the gamble of Davoudian’s magical, ruminative poems: to recreate, in art’s reflection, a home for the speaker, who is unable to return to it in life. Learn more about The Palace of Forty Pillars.

“Brilliant and deft and heartfelt.” — Richie Hofmann, author of A Hundred Lovers

“In this formally radical debut, Armen Davoudian shows how rhyme enacts longing for a homeland left behind; how meter sings to a lost beloved; and how a combination of the two can map a self—or idea of the self—relinquished so that a new life, and all the happiness it deserves, can take shape.” — Paul Tran, author of All the Flowers Kneeling

Armen Davoudian is the author of the poetry collection The Palace of Forty Pillars (Tin House) and the translator, from Persian, of Hopscotch by Fatemeh Shams (Ugly Duckling Presse). His chapbook, Swan Song, won the 2020 Frost Place Competition. He grew up in Isfahan, Iran, and is a Ph.D. candidate in English at Stanford University.

Anahid Nersessian was born and raised in New York City. She is the author of three books—Keats’s Odes: A Lover’s Discourse (Verso, 2022; U of Chicago P, 2021), The Calamity Form: On Poetry and Social Life (Chicago, 2020) and Utopia, Limited: Romanticism and Adjustment (Harvard UP, 2015)—and a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books. Her work has also appeared in The London Review of Books, New Left Review, n+1, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Paris Review, Bidoun, Poetry Magazine and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles, where she is a professor in the department of English at UCLA.

Literary Lights is a monthly reading series organized, for the second year in a row, by IALA, NAASR and the Zohrab Information Center. Each event—held online—features a writer reading from their work, followed by a discussion with an interviewer and audience members. Keep an eye on IALA’s website and socials for the exact dates of each event. Read along with the series by purchasing titles from the IALA Bookstore or the NAASR Bookstore.

International Armenian Literary Alliance
The International Armenian Literary Alliance is a nonprofit organization launched in 2021 that supports and celebrates writers by fostering the development and distribution of Armenian literature in the English language. A network of Armenian writers and their champions, IALA gives Armenian writers a voice in the literary world through creative, professional, and scholarly advocacy.

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