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08 09 2008 - By Appo Jabarian
1. (Jabarian's Column) -- William Saroyan, an American and Armenian Literary Icon, Continues to "Happen!"
2. YerazArt: Armenia's Young Virtuosos of Music and Songs To Appear In Los Angeles
1. William Saroyan, an American and Armenian
Literary Icon, Continues to "Happen!"

By Appo Jabarian
Executive Publisher/Managing Editor

In this Saroyan Centennial year, the noted writer William Saroyan's literary works, words of wisdom and healing continue to resonate in literally dozens of venues in several major and little cities from New York to Detroit, from Beirut to Paris, Yerevan, Moscow, Los Angeles, Tokyo, San Francisco and his birthplace, Fresno.

On Aug 1, the Java Journal of Missouri, USA, presented its readers with novelist and playwright William Saroyan's words of wisdom: "We are not forced into unpleasant activities. We either allow them to come about or we encourage them to come."

On August 3, the San Francisco Chronicle presented an "Essay: On the Writer William Saroyan" by San Francisco writer Herbert Gold.

On Aug 10, San Jose Mercury News, USA presented "ALL HAIL SAROYAN" and wrote: "Author, playwright and Fresno favorite son William Saroyan (1908-1981) is the focus of a daylong Salute to Saroyan in this, his centennial year."

On Aug 12,, United Kingdom reported about a play presentation that was "adapted from a novel by the Armenian author William Saroyan and shot in the same hypnotically sparse style as his first film."

On Aug 21, Detroit Free Press, United States wrote about a theatrical presentation in that city on the world-acclaimed "The Time of Your Life": The comedy-drama by William Saroyan.

On Aug 25, Reiten Television KXMB of Bismarck, North Dakota, USA presented to its viewers the Thought for Today: "Every man in the world is better than someone else and not as good someone else." Author: William Saroyan, American author (1908-1981).

And the list of Saroyan Centennial-related news stories goes on and on.
This week's issue of USA Armenian Life Magazine is dedicated to his birthday centennial. Saroyan is an American and Armenian literary icon. He was born on August 31, 1908. He passed away on May 18, 1981.

Saroyan brought much acclaim to his hometown of Fresno and his home state of California.

Rightfully so, California officially designated 2008 as being Saroyan Year across the Golden State.

Both the State Senate and the State Assembly did not issue just a proclamation that almost any elected official can give to community members. They have concurrently passed a resolution unanimously designating "the year 2008 as the William Saroyan Year for enriching the cultural diversity of the state, and in particular, for celebrating over 100 years of the cultural contribution of Armenian Americans to the people of the state; and be it further Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate transmit copies of this resolution to the author for appropriate distribution."

State Senator Dave Cogdill (R-Modesto) is credited for having introduced the Senate Resolution.

"We thank Senator Cogdill for taking the initiative to honor Saroyan who put the Central Valley and specially Fresno on the literary map of the world," said Varoujan Der Simonian of the Armenian Technology Group. "Saroyan once said that he didn't make Fresno famous, raisins did. The reality is that wherever you travel in the world, be that in Europe, Russia, Japan or the Far East, and when people find out that you are from Fresno, they will immediately say, 'Ah, Saroyan! Isn't that where William Saroyan was from?"

In Los Angeles, the West Coast chapter of the Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance presented its annual Celebrity Gala "Celebrating 100 years of William Saroyan" on Saturday August 23 at the Stars Palace Theatre. ADAA also presented a reading series at the Fountain Theatre on August 25, 26, and 27.

Referring to Saroyan's accomplishments and ADAA's mission, Entertainment attorney Zoe Kevork, West Coast Executive Director and In-House legal counsel was quoted by the Glendale News Press as saying that "the gala is a great way to celebrate the success of the alliance, to project the Armenian voice on the world stage through film and theater, to tell our story and give our history the full exposure that it deserves," just like venerable icon Saroyan did through his lifetime literary supra-performance.
Saroyan was the first American writer to win both the New York Drama Critic's Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize for his play, "The Time of Your Life" (1939).
The California Senate resolution said: "While Saroyan's writing 'The Armenian and the Armenian' is an especially stirring declaration of solidarity. The piece is set during the Armenian Genocide, in which over 1,500,000 Armenians were killed. The words evoke notes of grief, rage, resilience, and rebirth, in relation to Armenian cultural and social life. A famous excerpt reads: "I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia. See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia."

Saroyan prophesied the rebirth of independent Armenian statehood. And now that "New Armenia" has erected several statues dedicated to his living memory.
I was in Armenia in early April and was delighted to see how beautifully designed giant size Saroyan posters were put on display in public places all over the capital city of Yerevan. I found out that the country of his ancestral origin has developed a program to honor one of her favorite sons with a series of cultural events.

Saroyan's lasting words to the press just before his passage, "Everybody has got to die ... but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case."

An exception was made in his case. His wish, "A writer wants what he has to say to be heard again and again. He wants it to be heard after he is dead" as expressed in 1952 in the "The Bicycle Rider in Beverly Hills," has become the command of thousands of his followers across the globe. His legacy continues to live on with undying momentum. Because his memory's permanent address is posterity.

Upon the completion of his physical existence on the face of this planet, half of his ashes were buried in the Ararat Cemetery in Fresno and the remaining was interred in Yerevan, Armenia.

While Saroyan says that, "My writing is careless," yet it is deeply careful so as to ensure that "careless" state of mind ignites high caliber creativity enhanced with free spirit. That's why he deservedly claims: "But all through it is something that is good, that is mine alone, that no other writer could ever achieve" in his 1952 work titled "The Bicycle Rider in Beverly Hills."

In my opinion, all that was created by Saroyan was pure goodness for humankind.
Why? Deep in his heart, Saroyan emanates the spirit of eternal humanitarian. He wrote extensively about his concern for humanity.

He wrote: "If I have any desire at all, it is to show the brotherhood of man. In the time of your life, live - so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite variety and mystery of it. Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding place and let it be free and unashamed. It is the heart of man that I am trying to imply in this work. I see life as one life at one time, so many millions simultaneously, all over the earth. Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world."

At one point he said: "At his best, things do not happen to the artist; he happens to them." We're so blessed that he has "happened" to a legendary literary legacy, and continues to "happen" to us here, there, everywhere!

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