“A poet’s real biography is the biography of his inner self, the history of his spiritual life, inseparable from the life and history of his people (…) The sense of civic duty in poetry is nothing abstract, nor dependent on personal likes and dislikes, but relates directly to the poet’s own civic principles, or, if you wish, his own conscience and human dignity. No gardener will grow flowers in a valley if he knows that torrents may rush down its slopes. Likewise, no poet has the right to sing only about flowers while shells burst around in a havoc of violence and war. To say nothing of certain periods of history when to keep silence about rampant evil, to escape in so called “pure” poetry is tantamount to complicity in crime.”
All good writers at least dabble in poetry. It is in poetry that the writer learns a sense of beat and progress and jousts with the devilry of language. To be famous, to affect the histories of societies, most then move to prose. But prose, for the good writers, is the meat and organs upon a skeleton already constructed painstakingly as they wrestled with words.
Gevorg Emin was one of Armenia’s great poets, celebrated across the distances as experimental and passionate in his writing, the mind of an engineer and the spirit of a philosopher; taking his love of the land and the mountains – Ararat from one window and Aragats the other, viewed from his little house in Artashat – and turning it into music-less song. Our societies are better when we revere poets before sports figures and celebrities. Alas, I think those days have probably marched resolutely into history. And we go on in silence and sadness; having let die all the figures who can interpret the times and give them meaning – starved for want of those who would care for them.