Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Founding of the Writers Union of Armenia - August 1-5, 1934

After the establishment of the Soviet regime, various literary societies existed in Armenia for short periods of time. The Writers Union of Armenia, as a component of the all-Soviet Writers Union, was founded along with the latter during the first Congress of Soviet Armenian Writers, held in Yerevan on August 1-5, 1934.

The first president of the Writers Union was literary critic Drastamat Ter-Simonyan, and its secretaries, poet Vahram Alazan and critics Harutiun Mkrtchyan. The advisors were: Alexander Shirvanzade, Yeghishe Charents, Axel Bakunts, Azat Vshtuni, Derenik Demirjian, Mkrtich Janan, Stepan Zorian, Gurguen Mahari, Norayr Dabaghian, Nayiri Zarian and Hajie Jendi. Four of the thirteen members of the board died during the Stalinist purges of 1937-1938 (Ter-Simonyan, Charents, Bakunts, and Janan) and four others were deported to Siberia and returned more than fifteen years later (Mahari, Alazan, Mkrtchyan, and Tapaghian).

The second Congress of Soviet Armenian Writers was held in 1946 and elected poet Avetik Isahakian as president (1946-1957). The position of president was eliminated afterwards. Critic Eduard Topchyan was elected first secretary of the Union in 1959 and held his position until 1976. He was succeeded by novelist Vardgues Petrosyan (1976-1988), who in 1986 was elected president. However, at the onset of Mikhail Gorbachov’s “perestroika” (restructuring) in Armenia, he was replaced by poet Hrachya Hovhannisian during an extraordinary congress of the board of the Union in January 1988.

Another poet, Vahagn Davtian, became president of the Writers Union from 1990-1994. He was followed by poet Razmik Davoyan (1994-1996) and novelist Hrand Matevosyan (1996-2001). The current president is translator and journalist Levon Ananyan, who was elected in 2001.

The Writers Union, which is directed by a Board of Trustees (51 members) and an Executive Board (19 members), has its headquarters at the Writers’House (3 Marshal Baghramyan Avenue, Yerevan). Currently the Writers Union has 368 members from Armenia, 43 members from Artsakh (Karabagh), and 83 members from seventeen countries of the Diaspora (including 22 members from the United States), making a total of 494 members.

The Writers Union of Armenia building in central Yerevan.