Multilingual review incorporates Armenian guest language
Present on the USC language department campus since last November, the Trojan Bloom The multilingual literary journal aims to provide a creative outlet for writers in languages other than English taught at USC – and to expand the journal to cover more languages spoken in the broader campus community.
Funded by the USC Center for Language and Culture, Trojan Bloom aims to bring together those interested in non-English creative writing and language learning by compiling a variety of poetry, prose, and other miscellaneous pieces. , and represents the 15 languages that are taught in the campus department. Now, in their second semester issue, they’ll feature a guest language program that will represent languages that may not have USC classes, but are spoken frequently—for the fall semester, these are Armenian.
To produce Armenian as a guest language for the semester journal, Trojan Bloom is collaborating with USC’s Institute of Armenian Studies, which will assist in editing and proofreading submissions. Editor Tania Apshankar, a creative writing student, said the decision to add Armenian for the fall was a step to reflect a well-established language in Los Angeles – a city home to more than 200,000 Armenians – and to provide a platform during a difficult time in modern Armenian history.
“First, we wanted to include languages that reflect the LA community, and Armenian is a language that is widely spoken in general…as well as [due to] unrest continues,” Apshankar said. “Unfortunately, there was [a] war situation with Azerbaijan, and we just wanted to provide a platform for people to express themselves.
For Shushan Karapetian, deputy director of the Institute of Armenian Studies at USC and guest editor of Trojan Bloom, making sure her students’ voices were heard was paramount. Her expertise lay in studying languages outside of their native contexts, and she encouraged her students to submit work that spoke to Armenia’s rich linguistic and cultural heritage that honored all parts of their identity.
“Thematically, these pieces will somehow reflect the crisis that so many of these students are going through. [through], whether or not they’re talking directly about the war right now. I think that kind of diasporic angst and existential anxiety will come out [in students’ works] whether it is about language, whether it is about the state of Armenia in danger or simply about the changing Armenian identity,” said Karapetian.
Mariam Manukyan, a political science student and contributor to the journal, is working to fulfill this intention. She said she felt writing in Armenian allowed her to better express her complex feelings. Manukyan’s work focuses on her existential anxieties as she explores political and ethnic tensions in Armenia, and her pieces include both formal and informal Armenian, which she says allows her to bring more herself to the page.
“There’s stuff about [my] emotions that I can only speak in Armenian because that’s what’s closest to me,” Manukyan said.
Writer Merri Kuyumjian, a graduate in international relations, said she was delighted to have found a platform through Trojan Bloom and appreciated the opportunity to see the poem she wrote and translated with her grandfather published .
“Being able to celebrate our culture through our language and literature is really awesome, and that we can share it with non-Armenians is even better… it’s kind of like USC giving us a voice and it almost made us feel like, ‘Yes, we are important on campus, our culture and heritage are important on campus,'” Kuyumjian said. “To have this experience with my grandfather [too] was super awesome.
Trojan Bloom will be accepting submissions until October 9 and is accepting works in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Classical Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Persian, Polish, Russian and Armenian.