First Generation by Krikor Der Hohannesian


First Generation is a selection of poetry written over the author’s lifetime dealing with his experience of being first-born in America to survivors of the Armenian genocide, with the intent to give voice to the silences he never understood as a child – the seeming erasure of something too painful to put into words.  It also represents his quest to rectify history and, concomitantly, to break down the resistance to acknowledgement of what transpired now over a century ago. On a more general level, both directly and indirectly, the poems attempt to describe the immigrant experience in its many forms of disparate groups in America. It is the author’s wish to explore and underscore commonalities that transcend particular ethnicity.


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 112
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: May, 2020
  • ISBN: 978-1-948017-81-7


In First Generation Krikor Der Hohannesian offers his gift of a garden lovingly tended, the language in glorious bloom-a joy to the senses. One might read it from start to finish, savor the beauty of its phrasings and learn the character of its maker. Even the recurring theme of the atrocities of the Armenian genocide, while appropriately evoking horror, simultaneously leaves one grateful for a something that is so well put. This is the work of a master craftsman whose poems are both soul and sense of impeccable conjuring —Tomas O’Leary

A poet becomes memorable by allowing the reader to sit up and feel enraptured by a moment, an idea, a poetic line and usage of words that says this poet is worth reading. Krikor Der Hohannesian is such a poet. There are moments in First Generation when Der Hohannesian’s poems wrap around our hearts. He says it best: “Some things are indelible, like India ink, not just on paper but on the parchment of your soul.”  So get ready, these poems will leave that indelible mark in your heart and soul. —Zvi A. Sesling

Challenging the gods of despair and ghoulish misdirection, Krikor Der Hohannesian in his powerful poetic collection, First Generation, illuminates with a gentle eloquence the secrets hidden in the cellars, attics, and forgotten corners of the human heart. Showers of sparks and epiphanies of spirit result. —Dennis Daly




You told me of your dream –
where I was to be tried, then
judged for some offense,
no writ, no warrant, a mystery.
And when that day
of reckoning arrived I was scaling
the granite steps of a courthouse –
it was somewhere in Armenia-
and there sat the judge,
a woman, whose eyes spoke

“you needn’t fear me,
I know why you are here…

I drop to my knees, genuflect
on stone, hands in supplication, the sum
of my life awash in a cascade
of tears cleansing the steps.


And now it is afternoon, along
the New England shore, a hot summer day –
the kind that makes you want to live forever.
I am lying on grass, cool to my back,
and here is my dream. I am walking
an estuary in Carolina delta country .
Cypress and Spanish moss hang over the banks,
a cathedral enveloped by mist
rising off the water. Droplets of dew
cling to my body, naked, but the air
feels eerie, haunted with tacit warning,

“if you cross the creek
there will be no going back…”

I am pulled and I dip a toe, an ankle and
now I am up to my knees, moving
toward the far bank, when I feel
a presence at my back, hackles on edge.

I sense my daughters on the bank from
whence I came. The chorus echoes:

“if you turn to look at them,
you’ll never see them again…”

I am too weak, only
a silent prayer wells:

“whoever grants forgiveness,
please forgive me”


They are huddled like refugees,
tiny rills of sadness on their cheeks,
their hands wave once, twice, a tentative
farewell, their eyelids droop in mourning
and now I am weeping, turning away.
An aura is suspended in the mist- though
I can’t see you, I know it is you.
I feel your embrace, it holds
kindness, offers the solace I crave.
I evaporate into your arms,
we vanish in the fog, shapeless.


Krikor Der Hohannesian lives in Medford, MA. His poems have appeared in over 175 literary journals including The Evansville Review, The South Carolina Review, Atlanta Review, Louisiana Literature, Connecticut Review, Comstock Review and Natural Bridge. He is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of two chapbooks,“Ghosts and Whispers” (Finishing Line Press, 2010) and “Refuge in the Shadows” (Cervena Barva Press, 2013).  “Ghosts and Whispers” was a finalist for the Mass Book awards poetry category in 2011.


All images in this book are paintings by the author’s father, Garabed Der Hohannesian (1908 – 1992). He was an acclaimed Boston artist of the abstract impressionist school. His work was first shown at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1940 in a group showing with other artists from what was then termed as being of the school of “non-objective painters”.


Additional information

Weight 7.5 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .5 in