My father was a teacher. And I was born in Ashtarag in 1919. You will have trouble finding Ashtarag on a map. In fact, you may not even find my homeland Armenia. Although it is one of the oldest centers of civilization in the world, it has shrunk so much, especially in the 1915-1920 period, contracted like Balzac's ``La Peau de chagrin,'' that it has almost disappeared from history and the face of the earth. In 1927 our family moved to Erevan where after high school I graduated from the Polytechnic Institute as a hydraulic engineer in 1940. Today if I write instead of build canals and power plants it is due to two things: the impact of meeting the poet Eghishe Charents, and second, the touch of the ancient manuscripts at the Madenataran library where I worked as a student and could read and hold the magnificent old manuscripts from the 5th through the 18th Centuries.
Although I was later trained in philology, it was more my education as an engineer that I am indebted to as a poet because I believe the exact sciences have endowed me with the discipline and sense of form and construction, plus an abhorrence of the superfluous and the hazy, no matter how elegant or elevated the sound. The poetry of the East, in my estimation has been hurt, rather than helped by the ``elegant'' and ``sublime.''