Zareh Khrakhouni (Artin Cumbusyan pronounced Jumbushian) was born October 16, 1926, in Istanbul, Turkey of Armenian parents. After completing high school at the Mekhitarist Fathers' College in 1945, he first completed a year of law school at the University of Istanbul, but then continued in the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the same institution. In 1951, he received his Master's degree in philosophy, psychology and sociology, having studied with professors Ludwig Schwarz, Ernst von Aster, Walther Kranz, Wilhelm Peters, Heinz Heimsoeth, and a number of Turkish professors who were disciples of Nikolai Hartmann and Hans Reichenbach. He later continued his studies in Paris in both literature and art history.
While a student, he actively participated in various literary movements, which in the post-World War II period sought to revitalize poetry and prose in the Armenian community of Istanbul, the largest and oldest center of Western Armenian civilization and culture. Western Armenian as a literary language developed in nineteenth century Istanbul, then Constantinople. From the 1870s to the first decade of the twentieth century, there was an enormous literary explosion responsible for hundreds of Armenian newspapers and journals and thousands of books.
This flourishing cultural life was abruptly and brutally interrupted by the Genocide of 1915. It was to break the stagnant conformity of literary tradition in the period between the two World Wars that a younger generation of writers, starting in 1945, mounted an offensive of innovation in both the ideas, or perhaps better the subjects, of literary expression and its form.
Zareh Khrakhouni was one of the principal promoters of the “modern literature” and the “new poetry” movements in Western Armenian letters. Together with a group of young writers and poets, he created an avant-garde literary journal, San. Later he became the director and editor of the literary and artistic supplement of the Armenian daily newspaper of Istanbul, Marmara. He founded and was the main theoretician of the new school of poetry named by him “objective symbolism,” which was based on the principles of phenomenological aesthetics.
Among his 26 volumes of literature there are 16 volumes of poetry, a collection of prose essays and translations, a play, and eight volumes of translations in English, French, German, Russian, Georgian, and Eastern Armenian. Beside these books, which by the originality of their theoretical conception, by their strong artistic inspiration, and by their profound humanity constitute an incontestable contribution to world poetry, Zareh Khrakhouni has also played a considerable role in the socio-cultural life of his Istanbul community.
In addition to teaching in a number of high schools, he has written several school manuals, prepared biographical works on Armenian writers, edited a variety of commemorative booklets, and translated foreign prose and poetry into Armenian.
Special celebrations have taken place in America, the Middle East, and Armenia paying him tribute on the fiftieth anniversary of his writing career. He was honored with a special encyclical and the medal of St. Sahag and St. Mesrob by His Holiness Vazken I, Catholicos of All Armenians. Married and father of two children, he continues to live and write in Istanbul.
Source: Website of poet Khrekhouni
Photo by Matig Eblighatian