Vahe Arsen (whose official name is Vahe Arsenyan) was born and raised in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, and this city is a constant presence in his poems. Arsen loves the busy city, with its fleshy pink tufa stone buildings, as one might a woman: “And I / the early lover of the red city / I adore / her moist awakening.” The city forms a magic decor, in which lorries with iron lips burst into tears like a child without a toy (in ‘Taxi Taxi’) and where, in the lobby of a block of flats, a train stands and waits (‘Express Train to the Sun’).
At the same time, the busy traffic oppresses the poet, as do the chaos of the eternal building sites and the chilly impersonality of the human hordes to which he feels he does not belong. Other recurring themes are loneliness and alienation, which the poet accepts as his fate. “Loneliness-sundown and anger-waterfall: / gliding down to the pavement / that my home has clutched in its concrete cutters.”
Like a modern Don Quixote, Arsen goes to battle against the windmills of modern technocratic society. In powerful, often ironic terms, he analyses the reality that surrounds him, as well as that within him. His often lengthy poems give voice to a personality that is averse to all conventions.
Vahe Arsen is a professor of world literature at the State University of Yerevan. In addition to his numerous publications in literary magazines, he has published two volumes of poetry, Trtsjogh hetsaniv (The Flying Bicycle, 2003) and Kanatsj astvatsneri veradardze (The Return of the Green Gods, 2007). A third collection has yet to find a publisher. In 2011 a number of his poems were published in Russian translation. Arsen himself translates poetry from English (including poets such as Walt Whitman, Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath and Emily Dickinson) and from Russian (Elena Zeifert and others). His leisure activities are boxing and karate.
Thrchogh hetsaniv, WUA, Yerevan, 2003
Kanatsj astvatsneri veradardze, WUA, Yerevan, 2007
De terugkeer van de groene goden, de Brouwerij, Rotterdam, 2010
Ekspres solnetsjniy marsjroet (Express Train to the Sun), Moscow, 2011
The Game, Zangak 97, Yerevan, 2009 (works by Slovakian poets translated by Arsen from English into Armenian)