Arpine Konyalian Grenier

Malgre Sangre, Where the Word Meets Itself

My father, a genocide? survivor, lived working and praying, and in a way that’s what I do as a doer of poetry. Ora et labora. But as Beckett would say, there is nothing to write about and no one to write to, but the urge to write. Ora et labora for song then. So then, one is verbalizing writing. Words are tools. We are not the guardian but master of words. With them we mediate the mutually contradictory, as it is blurry between the sacred and the secular. Agency is fluid. With words, we bloom the genus and species flower that we are. We evolve in spite and because of the human; human blood, shed or inherited, regardless.

There is a component of will in this movement/evolution which is more like exaptation (expanded adaptation); it is quality and generosity driven. It heralds evolving through adapting but also through active and conscious will and effort without the singularity of the short lived “i,” the person, the nation, the electron destined for chaos. Here is receptive elegance, swirls and layers of Milosz Forman’s “floating platform,” an otherwise unknown but hopeful future modulating over trans-national territories driven but not bound by history and heritage. Breath evolves accordingly, so do culture and identity. If it weren’t for love, weren’t for ethics, we say. As we exapt and choose through love, we evolve poetically, vibrating between the sacred and the secular. Therein lies movement; we are alive.

shed skin for shed blood
shed spite despite the Armenian
American or not

The resulting collage (self-consuming artifact) would deliver connections for transformation as it curates itself, the curating hopefully endorsing the commonality of being human as a continuous and inclusive enterprise rather than a dichotomous and hierarchical one, the longing to connect just because we’re human overshadowing the politic of the human.

meaning to dream to lost object to gaze
theme of human so unlikely but corpse still

baring mother seed on a still point = confusion

Facing this confusion, this causal sequence of events and relational gestalts made possible by human capacities for symbol formation and memory, leads to the responsibility of taking (moral? poetic?) action in the present, outside of stasis, in ec-stasy. One finds affirmation of possibilities there, sacred ground. Khorah (altar? in Hebrew & Armenian) where the disclosed and the concealed move towards each other against the backdrop of a neutral non-zero field like the Higgs.

I am an Armenian-American from Beirut, Lebanon where a variety of religions, languages, and nationalities coexist(ed) in a rare mixture of oriental simultaneity and occidental individualism. I have no mother tongue, as my mother tongue has lost me. I implode within this loss, seeking the chaos sustaining the world of languages, after a derivative of the past whereby the new would occur, time and history abolished because of what escapes or survives the disintegration of experience.

rapture around the bars around me
a father’s house lacking threshold

big huge eyes

balancing the need for obscurity
against the need for validity

These huge eyes face a contingency much like that of a “word” landing on the page or coming out of someone’s vocal chords. Celebrating this contingency without augmenting or being paralyzed by it, one keeps the eyes open to the past, shares its glory and shame because as human, one is beneficiary to both. So then, the “word” is meeting itself. Pan = thing = word in Armenian, word ready at the feet of Pan, the God meaning All.

word sliding down a story I know
of counter and inter questions

a multi part message in mime format
a happening on pavement I pleasure in

As a doer of poetry, I am after the meta-linguistic polytonality of experience that artfully feeds the soul, constructing (not describing) a space at the edge of meaning. A threshold, above which there is meaning and articulation, below which there is nothing but a cry of impaired linguistic capacity, driven by the need for a state of being yoked with the self at the same time realigned with “the other.” There but not there, with no center, liminal and luminous a liturgy. Fore-thought to thought to rupture and final utterance causing the “word,” which in turn modulates like a lepton or quark splayed over Higgs.

There, I seem to be culturally un-locatable, manipulating the essentials and how they work at large, unfolding within a creating, invisible and unaccountable—yet on the grid, abandoning self—not because I cannot be documented but because of gratitude, hope, and love. There is no product where love is, but a fullness pushing forward, eternal simultaneity, the epiphanies of transverse politic. Rumi’s three only words—hamdim, pistim, yandim—I’m created (graced?), weathered (seasoned?), consumed (finished off?). Visible practice, underpinned by the invisible, conflated and conflagrated for a behemoth aspiration. An associative moral? (poetic?) headed whereabouts. That is the realm of the sacred, of poetry. It rattles, sways, floats, and dances, caught between the multivariate nature of realities, passionate reason after preservation and change. Like the Gods, one is dreaming and acting at the same time, driven by the necessity to do justice, the constraints of theory and lived experience, regardless.

orphaned tenacity and patience
because of light


the additional lurking to be registered
while light slowly if it were
ordinary language terrain
life riding over


one bears witness to
with the body and place of an absent body
disclosing addressing negotiating
for breath

Otherwise, denial rules as unresolved dependence and aesthetic values increase, while art and culture fade away. Fear dampens our wisdom and guilt distorts our sense of direction; the ensuing hegemonic monolith exacerbates the distance between cultures, creates pressure, anger, tragedies, scapegoat. To pursue homogeneity is to avoid risk, while risk is in the very essence of life. No erasure provides artful will. Poetry does. With poetry, doubt, debate, disagreement, and dissension expand and contract, overlay and mold. Side by side, near to far, parallel or implied, cross fertilizations abound as perception works with vision, consciousness and memory; connections develop, and the mutuality thereof heals as it reshapes the historical and the collective. Now we’re plowing, bouncing, lingering, stretching, and moving on. No more (vampire) sucking blood; more like werewolves we, shape-shifting organically, immersed in hope, blessed by the miraculous and the mundane. Parity is not conserved but passed on otherly then, ebru created colors and shapes allow the passage. Silk. Zinc and Titanium enhance the power of silk with today’s (nano)technology. The Gods are at it again. Untergehen. En face de – . Coherent de-coherence.

the last colony’s eradicated
sing do not recite

the pull of the sun endorses heart
liturgy alternates the hour
the conditional stills

inward and outward the techne
between being and charity
parrhesic in nature

We’re at the khorah, with no trajectory (location or direction), no Klein self-referentialism either. With poetry, the soul is tracking sacred ground, all the colors of light dwelling in its immanence. Poetry makes language happen, renews culture blinded by its own compass, opens hearts and minds to dialogue as motor and mirror neurons interact, the gem of utterance temporal to spatial, the constant flux déjà vu, déjà eu. Ergo ergon, by work, by song, by transgression. With poetry, words and phrases meet circumstance without competing, continuous and inclusive, free of gendered tropes, self-absorbed, instinctive, less observant, more open. Like laws of nature they inhabit long-range patterns, each affecting the other along a vast nothingness that belongs to no one, in which there can be no colonization, quantification, or discrimination. We were never created, we were always light, how dark we have become.

dab into the red and draw monkey limbs and tail lacerated from the climb
stray roots and wrinkles


then spare the grounds in black boxes with no labels
for supper we’ll plough soft land
for rooster muscle

With poetry, structure and change go together, polarization and reconciliation too. The whole is established through the shedding of its parts. We’re left with what’s left over from the ether (Awir), that’s light (Awr) without the “i,” a fecundity most at home when farthest from itself, between sleep and drowsiness, danger and fatigue, hoping for a revelation. The tension exposes the artifice behind concepts, lays bare the slippery and surfactant nature of logic, domesticates states of being and living.

the infirm spill to the wind


simultaneously the sky


the endothelial (wo)man wakes
she has orange hair
rancid roses of crystal in it


hello coughs out the sutures she’s clutched for years
stuck to the insides of everyman
hello! s/he looks up


light panels on the ceiling
simple soldier gray


the bloody face in rapture

We’ll make the river newly yet. No more plaster for the cracks, no fuss, no silence, no stutters either. No protagonists, antagonists, or narrators—only participants. That is where poetic engagement occurs with ethics, politics, and spirituality. It is apocalyptic in nature, it is also a natural state of being, like the Heisenberg Principle and maya, Higgs’ neutral non-zero and maya, open-ended evolutionary terrain re forming mindsets through a humanizing that focuses on the impermanence and insignificance of all things human, all things except the need to connect just because—

memory feeds a hydraulic limb
fact to symbol gyrate

do I need an interface?

pieces of human that I am
software software please

touch this heart perk
this essential

So then, we have no truth but a place to stand, a place of grace we give ourselves. We have power, elastic and interwoven. Lawrence Lessig’s “Remix.” Ranciere’s perception of “the regime of perception in society” with Soltau’s “stitches,” no problem. Purity at large, parts missing, interfaces iterative and locative. Greatcoat, where are you? With a telling enchantée I nod at you as I am reminded of the FOXP2 language gene? in humans, birds, and other animals. The gene? said to be activated to repress other genes so as to develop sound, song, language. With poetry, we’re suchly activated and repressed for a new song, new language.

my lens against your compassion
so many pieces the color of self

l’histoire de retrouvailles

Cherchent, changent, we human expats, nomads, exapting without con ceit con coct con jecture con cording cordance, con templative, con vivencia. And where does wind come from? Hawa = wind = love in Arabic, and Yahwa = God = S/He loves. A translation is occurring at the moment of enunciation as the “word” meets itself, a re-articulation or negotiation has been made at the edges of meaning. Uncertainty is operative, so is solidarity.

you and me computationally irreducible
the sun’s epinoia I am glad to tell
the kings the queens blanked

Celan reads, […] There are roses in the house […] where they beat my father and mother to death: what bloomed there, what blooms there?”

Birds have rhythm, chimps have categories, humans have both—chords and rhythm as in jazz, poetry. The human is poetry.

Arpine Konyalian Grenier comes from science, music, languages, and the arts. A graduate of the American University of Beirut and Milton Avery Graduate Center for the Arts, Bard College, New York. She has authored four collections: St. Gregory’s Daughter; Whores from Samarkand; Part, Part, Euphrates; The Concession Stand: Exaptation at the Margins. Recent work can be found in Big Bridge, Poiesis, Journal of Poetics Research, and Barzakh, to name a few. She lives and writes in Los Angeles.