Music: Caroline Lavelle
Siamant’o is the well-known Armenian poet of protest and rebellion. He travelled a lot during his life, educated in Istanbul and the Sorbonne in Paris. He spent a year in Boston as editor of the Armenian paper ‘Hayrenik’ (The Homeland), returning home when he thought a new and better era for Armenia was emerging, but he was killed among 761 other Armenian intellectuals massacred in 1915. I have taken phrases from his poem ‘A Handful of Ash’ and used them as a soundscape rather than as a whole poem, and I wished it to be a kind of lament for Siamant’o himself. The poem in its entirety speaks of his hearing that his old childhood home has been destroyed and how he wishes to have a handful of its ash for his grave. I was helped in my attempts at pronunciation by a wonderful Armenian academic called Mr Yessayan, who was very patient and helpful, even though my efforts were not always successful.