Meet Armen Davoudian
Armen Davoudian’s poems and translations from Persian appear in AGNI, Narrative, The Sewanee Review, and elsewhere. His work has been supported by scholarships from Bread Loaf and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He grew up in Isfahan, Iran and is currently a PhD candidate in English at Stanford University.
2020 Judge Patrick Donnelly’s Praise for Swan Songs
What beautiful poems! Armen Davoudian’s superb Swan Songs speaks with a lushly sensuous music. It’s full of a longing that is both sweet and harsh, as when he describes the blackness at the center of a red tulip “as though / a cigarette had been put out in it.” The poems’ protagonist is the poignant recorder of the “patchouli funk,” saffron, and rosewater of a coddled Iranian childhood. And his is a princely sensibility—but adaptable, happily unperturbed in a “one-bath four-person household.” Formally virtuosic, sometimes passionately, comically opinionated—“Everyone in my all-boys school is dumber than me”—Davoudian can also describe the trauma caused by the president and his travel bans with devastating precision and understatement. That he loves men is a mostly undramatic matter, and he observes the antics of straight attempts at coupling with sympathy. This marvelous book casts a spell, the reservoirs of desire filling and emptying in rhythmic cycles, and reading it is a visit with a charmed voice. Long may it sing.
—Patrick Donnelly, author of The Charge, Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin, and Little-Known Operas
“The Antlered Doe” from The Wishbone Dress
The Antlered Doe
By R. Cassandra Bruner
A man doused in roebuck piss says
I saw it as I skinned its thighs
Your death always a joke, the shock
of womb, a punchline.
Darting through the underbrush,
even your hooves resounded like cackling children.
This velvet crown was not always a betrayal—
In rutting season, the tongues
of stags & doe alike climbed
your hind leg, crying
I opened for my beloved but she was gone.
But now is the hour of moths.
Now the body remade as
a sack of buckshot.
A child wraps you in a bundle of sweat-stale
flannel, lifts you onto the truckbed
like a distant sister.
Nestled against your snout, he mouths
a wish for recognition, for his budding breasts
to hide themselves away like fawns.
(First Published in Hunger Mountain Issue 2)