Cummings Foundation Grant Recipient

LITERARY LIGHTS: The Palace of Forty Pillars ~ Saturday, May 4, 2024

Anahid Nersessian Armen Davoudian International Armenian Literary Alliance Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center Literary Lights NAASR Palace of Forty Pillars


Armen Davoudian, author of The Palace of Forty Pillars. 


Anahid Nersessian, professor in the Department of English at UCLA. 

Wry, tender, and formally innovative, Armen Davoudian’s debut poetry collection, The Palace of Forty Pillars, tells the story of a self estranged from the world around him as a gay adolescent, an Armenian in Iran, and an immigrant in America. It is a story darkened by the long shadow of global tragedies—the Armenian genocide, war in the Middle East, the specter of homophobia. With masterful attention to rhyme and meter, these poems also carefully witness the most intimate encounters: the awkward distance between mother and son getting ready in the morning, the delicate balance of power between lovers, a tense exchange with the morality police in Iran.

In Isfahan, Iran, the eponymous palace has only twenty pillars—but, reflected in its courtyard pool, they become forty. This is the gamble of Davoudian’s magical, ruminative poems: to recreate, in art’s reflection, a home for the speaker, who is unable to return to it in life.

Armen Davoudian is the author of the poetry collection The Palace of Forty Pillars (Tin House) and the translator, from Persian, of Hopscotch by Fatemeh Shams (Ugly Duckling Presse). His chapbook, Swan Song, won the 2020 Frost Place Competition. He grew up in Isfahan, Iran, and is a PhD candidate in English at Stanford University.
Anahid Nersessian was born and raised in New York City. She is the author of three books—Keats’s Odes: A Lover’s Discourse (Verso, 2022; U of Chicago P, 2021), The Calamity Form: On Poetry and Social Life (Chicago, 2020), and Utopia, Limited: Romanticism and Adjustment (Harvard UP, 2015)—and a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books. Her work has also appeared in The London Review of Books, New Left Review, n+1, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Paris Review, Bidoun, Poetry Magazine and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles, where she is a professor in the Department of English at UCLA.

Literary Lights is a monthly reading series organized, for the second year in a row, by IALA, the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), and the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center. Each event—held online—features a writer reading from their work, followed by a discussion with an interviewer and audience members. Keep an eye on our website and socials for the exact dates of each event. Read along with the series by purchasing titles from the IALA Bookstore or the NAASR Bookstore.

Click here to read along with the series by purchasing titles from IALA's online bookstore powered by Bookshop. Or purchase your books from the NAASR Bookstore online.

Download the flyer here. 


National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR)

Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center

International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA)

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