We were extremely sad to learn of the death, on 10 January 2022, of Razmik Davoyan, for 40 years Armenia’s leading poet. We first became acquainted with his work through a translation by Arminé Tamrazian, his wife, of his selected poems – Whispers and Breath of the Meadows – which we published in 2010. Some six years later we published a second full collection, a shortened and revised version of his epic poem Requiem, again translated by Arminé Tamrazian, and between these 2 titles, the anthology Six Armenian Poets, edited by Razmik, appeared.
Razmik was an extraordinary, charismatic, larger-than-life figure, known and revered throughout Armenia. We became aware of this on the first of our three visits to Armenia when an 8-year old boy out on a school trip in Yerevan ran up to him to ask him ‘Are you Mr Davoyan?’, then shouted in great excitement to his classmates who immediately surrounded him. The very same day, when we were visiting a church in the countryside outside the capital, an old man, worse for wear from drink, recognised Razmik and implored us all to come to his house for a meal. Indeed everywhere we went, Razmik was recognised by young and old alike and greeted with enthusiasm – everyone knew his poetry.
Through Razmik’s poetry we were introduced to a culture so very different from ours and learnt of a history that is still rarely talked about outside Armenia. His long poem, Requiem, is, in part, a response to, and a reflection upon, the Armenian Genocide of 1915, and far from being bitter and recriminatory, it is full of wisdom and acceptance and hope for the future. Razmik’s poetry is by turns monumental (as though hewn out of Armenia’s rocks like many of its ancient churches) and intimate, direct yet mystical, and resonates with a uniquely Armenian voice.
Razmik will be mourned and greatly missed inside Armenia and by Armenians everywhere and here too at Arc, for as well as losing an exceptional poet, we have lost a very dear friend.
from Requiem (Arc, 2016)
Thoughts explode and blossom within me
And flowers emerge
On the delicate stems of my feelings.
These colourful flowers of my love,
Threaded through with the whisper of birth,
Open for you in the thickness of the dark.
They fill the world with the music of the soul.
I have become an eye, an ear, a spirit,
In which blossoms burst,
In which is woven the inexplicable tale
Of the colourful beauty of love.
Leave our family tree standing
On the blue hills of memory.
It will teach you how to live,
To scatter perfume for you
From its myriad lips