AGBU Vatche & Tamar Manoukian High School

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Winter Formal, Friday, January 24, 7:00 PM

How Does The Armenian Lyricism Taste?

To put this claim to a test, last week, we turned to Misak Medzarents, one of the great lyrical poets, to discover a very fragrant word – mastic.

First, we searched around in local ethnic food stores, hoping to spot something made of mastic (prepared from tree sap, which originated in the Greek island of Chios) to test out its sweetness, and perhaps even place ourselves in Medzarents’s shoes when he felt inspired to compose his poem “Untitled.” Upon discovering mastic gum, we all chewed some in our classroom, and Mr. Daduryan was no exception! It was pure, refreshing, cleansing, aromatic and even saccharine just the way the then 21-year-old poet explained: “Մազտաքէ բուրող ծաղիկ.”

To provide a bit of context, roughly 23 villages on the island of Chios produce mastic - often in the form of chewing gum. It is lauded for its antibacterial properties, as well as pain relief, particularly for those suffering from lung disease. It was even said to cure stomach ulcers, and oddly enough, to whiten teeth. In the Mediterranean basin and in the Middle East, mastic also has culinary uses, and the Greeks appreciate it so much that they even produce mastic wine.

Thank you, Armenian poetry, for allowing us showing us this fragrant aspect of Armenian literature.