Fira Akian: I consider myself a drop in the sea and am happy that the sea flutters with my one drop as well”

Autumn in Armenia is fruitful in terms of festivities, creative leaps, tourism and the visits of Diaspora Armenians. Various concerts, exhibitions, conferences, contests, competitions and award ceremonies and book presentations are held almost every day in the hot autumn in Yerevan, and the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia supports most of those events. All Diaspora Armenians share the joy of their pro-national acts with the Ministry of Diaspora, and one of those Diaspora Armenians is U.S.-based Armenian children’s writer, songwriter, teacher, puppet maker and Vice-President of the Armenian Association of Writers of the United States of America Fira Akian. During my interview with Fira Akian for Hayern Aysor, I became convinced once again that it is the Armenians of the world who represent the beautiful colors of our world.

Karine Avagyan: Mrs. Akian, welcome to the homeland! I think this autumn is “fruitful” for you since you have presented three new books. Please, tell us about that.

Fira Akian: I would like to express my greetings to all my compatriots in Armenia and convey the longing of Armenian Americans to the Armenians who are lucky to be living in the Homeland. I would like to express my gratitude for being hosted at the RA Ministry of Diaspora, particularly the editorial office of Hayern Aysor electronic newspaper and for inviting me to an interview. Yes, my autumn is truly fruitful. I have brought with me my new books, a three-volume book of 60 real and fascinating fairy tales. My real story fairy tales feature works based on events in real life. I live in the reality, but I feel like I am in the world of fairy tales where good always wins evil.

Karine Avagyan: Mrs Akian, we all know that children are the ones who usually read fairy tales. Are adults interested in your fairy tales?

Fira Akian: It is a pleasure for me to answer this question. During my shows entitled “Tsir Katin” (Milky Way), I address children and adults alike by saying “dear children” and “dear adults”…Adults need to read to children with special pronunciation and sentimentality, which is very important in order to convey the whole meaning and importance of a particular fairy tale to children. Even if adults decide not to read those fairy tales, when they read it to their children, they automatically become the readers of my fairy tales. Yes, adults also read the fairy tales because when people grow older, what they need the most are fairy tales, kindness and peace. Moreover, the child lives within the soul of an adult.

Karine Avagyan: Dear Mrs. Akian, why did you decide to become a children’s writer and not a poet or novelist?

Fira Akian: There is a story behind this as well. I have loved painting and cutting colorful papers since childhood. I would create “a school” with flags and toys, rip my mother’s string of pearls, cut cloths, make up dresses and use the pieces of the pearl on the clothes that were a figment of my imagination…I would read the works of great Armenian and foreign children’s writers, after which I started writing myself. One day, my father told me that I had to stop reading those fairy tales and start writing…I didn’t understand him…I cried all night. A year later, even though I was thinking twice about it, I showed my father my fairy tales, and he told me I could continue because I was Fira Akian. My father’s evaluation was very important for me because he was a person who was strongly connected to literature and had been a friend of Yeghishe Charents (the great writer had sent letters to my father from prison)…My father really motivated me, and the road led me to the world of fairy tales. Of course, I also have a God-given talent for which I am grateful to the Creator. I must say that writing for children is much more difficult than writing for adults.

Karine Avagyan: You are also Vice-President of the Armenian Association of Writers of the United States of America, write, create puppets, write songs, host shows, direct plays based on your fairy tales, participate in several events and are the director of “Tsir Katin” (Milky Way) Armenian children’s newspaper. How do you manage to do all this? Is the day a century for you?

Fira Akian: That is a very important question. Yes, in terms of time, the day is a century for me. I manage everything and never get tired because whatever I do, I do it with pleasure. This is the world I love in this world. There is no cleaner and more beautiful world than the world of children. This is the intact oasis on our planet. As far as the Armenian Association of Writers of America is concerned, I must say that it is under the direction of a wonderful intellectual, Vazgen Vanatur. Our Association has done a tremendous job over the past two years. We have two magazines, two shows, one newsletter and are able to help Javakhk.

Karine Avagyan: Mrs. Akian, you also participated in the conference of Armenian writers. Where there issues that the participating writers agreed on?

Fira Akian: Yes, we raised several major issues, one of which is the engagement of more young writers in the next conference and support to the release of books by writers who can’t afford to publish their books. President of the Union of Writers of Armenia Eduard Militonyan also agreed that those issues need to be solved over time and at least until the next conference. Unfortunately, there are cases when the works of more talented writers remain on paper due to lack of funding for publication, and yet there are also many cases when a less talented or simply untalented person publishes dozens of books because he or she has money…This is what we need to think about.

Karine Avagyan: Are you popular abroad?

Fira Akian: Fortunately, I am. My songs are performed by Armenian children in the United States, Lebanese-Armenian singer Maggie and the pupils of various schools in Armenia, whom you will see at the presentation of my books. I consider myself a drop in the sea and am happy to be able to makes the sea flutter with my one drop.

Karine Avagyan: Do you donate your books or sell them?

Fira Akian: You can’t sell a fairy tale. It has to be donated, and I donate them. I have donated hundreds of books to the children of different villages and provinces of Armenia. All the children who participate in my presentation will receive books that I have published.

Karine Avagyan: Have your works for children, riddles and sayings been included in the curricula of schools in Armenia?

Fira Akian: Yes! The book “Mankan Partez” (Garden of a Child) is included in curricula.

Karine Avagyan: Have you donated your books to children in Artsakh?

Fira Akian: During the conference hosted at the Union of Writers of Armenia, I donated one of my books to President of the Union of Writers of Artsakh Vardan Hakobyan. The children of Arstakh will read my books through him.

Karine Avagyan: We reached the end of our interview. You have visited the Ministry of Diaspora several times. The staff at the Ministry knows you and always waits for you…

Fira Akian: For me, the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia is my home, and the members of the staff are like my relatives whom I miss dearly. I highly appreciate the work of the Minister of Diaspora, her infinite diligence, activism and dedication to her great mission.

Karine Avagyan: To whom would you like to address your heartfelt words?

Fira Akian: I would like to address my heartfelt words to the Armenian army, the soldiers defending our borders and my grandson, Mikayel who will be drafted to the army soon. I wish him a safe service and a safe return to the loving arms of his mother. May God be with all the soldiers who, God forbid, but I am certain that they can turn into ‘lions’ in a minute, if the insidious enemy makes an attempt to attack our borders.

Karine Avagyan: Mrs. Akian, thank you for the interview and your pro-national acts. May your kind songs and fairy tales and vivid puppets make the intact world of children more beautiful.

Karine Avagyan

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