Lola Koundakjian’s The Accidental Observer
A mulberry tree serendipitously discovered on West 87th Street. Fleeting memories of past loves and brief encounters. The changing of the seasons. These are some of the themes that Lola Koundakjian treats with sensitivity and poetic grace in her 2011 volume The Accidental Observer. Koundakjian, a muse of modern Armenian poetry who founded and edits The Armenian Poetry Project, writes mainly in free verse about questions of identity and everyday existence, often pairing the surreal with the mundane, the everyday with the eternal. The poems in this collection are published trilingually in English, Armenian and Spanish, which is a delight to the linguist in all of us. What sets Koundakjian apart perhaps is her evident concern with the human condition, with aspects of everyday human life which go by unnoticed, events which otherwise might go uncorrelated. In “Life,” the poet writes:
“She dices the onion finely.
A construction worker, 25, falls to his death.
She adds the coriander, cloves and ginger.
A soldier, 21, walks over a roadside bomb.
She removes the meatballs from the fridge
A journalist, 43, gets shot thru the head.
She stirs the sauce over a low fire
And adds a few tears to the pot.
Many of Koundakjian’s poems deal with issues of human justice and the lack of it in the world. It is an important voice even if, at times, the message overwhelms the form that presents it. But Koundakjian is also a poet of love, of everyday, simple comforts:
“And when I walked in
you were like a sun’s ray-
greeting me with
warmth, and care, and coffee.”
Koundakjian reminds us to savor the smells, sights and experiences of daily life and to give back to the world the delights that it presents to us, sometimes bittersweet, sometimes joyful, and sometimes sad.
The Accidental Observer by Lola Koundakjian is available on Amazon and other online booksellers.
Click here to view other works by Lola Koundakjian.