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The Literary Groong - 04/29/2006

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	By David Kherdian

	You were not only the uncle of the man
	I most admired, you were also the uncle
	I longed for but never had.

	You were the jewel in the lost desert
	of the San Joaquin, in that city for which
	you and your nephew held the only
	promise for me, being your troubled admirer
	and friend.

	Like me you prized writing above all other
	human activities, and also like me you had
	done nothing about it yourself.
	Except to read and admire those who had.
	For me it was William Saroyan, while you
	believed that Leo Tolstoy was the quintessential man.
	Our admiration for them was so great
	that we nearly believed their greatness
	had rubbed off on us.

	We ate lavash, cheese, and watermelon
	on your country lawn, while I took down
	book after book from your living room shelf,
	continuing my education, that you helped
	to guide - neither of us suspecting that
	I would one day be a prolific writer myself.

	Those final years, before I broke into print,
	while you were being broken down by cancer
	and old age, were desperate, important years
	for me, full of loneliness, and depression
	and self-doubt.

	You could not have known, you could
	not have believed, just how important you
	were to me then. You put up with my madness,
	perhaps suspecting, perhaps not, that I would one day
	break through.I wonder now if you withheld this
	from me because you knew what it might portend.

	You knew, and you said, that your nephew became
	a writer because of his troubled past,
	and I could see that you regretted
	that he was driven to write,
	just as you regretted the childhood
	experiences that drove him to create something
	outside of himself that he could live for,
	but that had separated the two of you.
	For you knew he would never emerge
	from that journey to be the friend and nephew
	you needed him to be, that he had once been
	in the long unforgotten time you liked to tell about.

David Kherdian's poems are from his 20th book of poems, forthcoming
from Taderon Press, London, in early 2006. He has published 63 books
in a variety of fields, including a Bibliography of William Saroyan,
three memoirs, fiction, retellings and translations, a life of the
Buddha, children's books and several biographies including The Road
From Home, for which he was awarded numerous awards and prizes,
including a Newbery Honor Book, The Jane Adams Peace Award, The Boston
Globe/Horn Book Award, and a nomination for the National Book Award.
Also, for one of his novels, he was given The Friends of American
Writers Award. In addition, he has edited nine anthologies, founded
three small presses, and he has been the editor of three journals,
including Ararat, Forkroads: A Journal of Ethnic-American Literature,
and Stopinder: A Gurdjieff Journal for Our Time. David is currently
editing a paper called The Tree, while compiling The Armenian-American
Writer: The First Generation, which will consist of novelists, short
story writers, playwrights, and poets, ranging over the last 82 years,
that will also feature essays on these writers by as many
second-generation Armenian-American writers.

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