Tribute to Mr. Assadur Guzelian
On Sunday the 20th of March 2016 AGBU London Chapter organised a literary event and reception at Kensington Close Hotel in London dedicated to one of the most loved and celebrated leaders of the Armenian diaspora: writer, poet, editor and fervent campaigner Mr. Assadour Guzelian. The driving force behind this largely overdue but imperative tribute was Mrs. Seda Ananian - yet another personal friend of Mr. Guzelian - who had been trying to persuade this multitalented nonetheless extremely modest man to agree to the small tribute for several months. Mrs Seda Ananian is the former senior editor at the Armenian Encyclopaedia and author of hundreds of articles in the Armenian press in Armenia, France and the UK.
A brief introduction was delivered by Mr. Jirair Kevorkian on behalf of the AGBU London Chapter, who welcomed the representatives of the Armenian Church, the Armenian Embassy and the invited guests, predominantly members of the Armenian community in London.
Next, Mrs. Seda Ananian presented the brief biography and the literary pathway of Mr. Guzelian. Mrs. Ananian started by mentioning that Mr. Guzelian was born in 1932 in Cilician Armenian village of Sovouk Olouk. Further in her speech, Mrs Ananian discussed the four books published by Assadour Guzelian to date. The first volume is an epic poem entitled Hamo and Fadileh, printed in Beirut in 1960. Guzelian’s second book entitled Everlasting Friendship was printed in Yerevan in 2009. The third book Turning the Press Pages, that assembled Guzelian’s articles throughout his fifty-year-long career as editor, reporter and influential authority in the Armenian diaspora, was published in Beirut in 2011. The latest book is called The Letters Talk, printed in Beirut in 2014, where the impressive correspondence between Guzelian and distinguished personalities is exposed to readers. In recognition to his services to the nation, literature and to the Church, Mr. Guzelian was awarded “Sourb Nerses Shnorhali” medal by Vasken First, Catholicos of All Armenians in 1982.
At the end of her presentation, Mrs Ananian invited Mr. Guzelian on stage, to share some of the enthralling and humorous episodes of his interesting life, including his encounters with writer William Saroyan, Catholicos of All Armenians Vazgen l, composer Aram Kchatchatrian and others. Mr. Guzelian furthermore, recited his emotional and colourful poem Kilikian dedicated to his Armenian school in Syria.
Mrs. Tamar Geghamyan-Minasian, specialst in the Armenian literature, gave a brief analysis of Guzelian’s epic poem Hamo and Fadileh (1960), influenced by his childhood memories. The poem is a tragic love story between Hamo, the poor shepherd and gifted musician and Fadileh, the kind and beautiful daughter of cruel Arif Beg. Mrs. Geghamyan-Minasian emphasized the particular richness of the author’s language, full of metaphors, allegories, similes. Though the story is about the impossible love between two young and authentic souls with tragic ending, nonetheless, the speaker mentioned, that the entire poem is filled with light, colourful imagery and lyrical beauty.
Mr. Manvel Adamian, a well-known and esteemed writer, dramatist and poet as well as the life-long friend of Assadour Guzelian, took the stage to express his satisfaction for organising such a commendable evening, and read his poem written few days before dedicated to Mr. Guzelian.
Young and talented soprano Anush Hovhannisyan shared her personal feelings about Mr. Guzelian and his wife Vivienne, revealing the warmth, the charm and the generosity of these exceptional human beings. She said that Mr. Guzelian is the perfect role model for the new generation: as an Armenian and as a person. Anush Hovhannisyan sang the beautiful song Oror by Komitas to conclude her performance.
His Grace Bishop Hohakim Manukyan shared his impressions of Mr. Guzelian’s book, entitled Letters Are Talking, revealing his close friendship with many outstanding artists, scientists and writers of the twentieth century. Meanwhile, the speaker highlighted, the book happened to be a significant piece of historical evidence of a rare association between the Diaspora and the Soviet Armenia. Under problematic circumstances and censorship, the correspondence displayed the courage, the patriotism and the determination of Assadour Guzelian to establish links with the homeland and to reunite the dispersed Armenian nation. Bishop Hovakim closed the evening with his blessings to the present.
By Hasmik Harutunyan
March 22, 2016