Rebecca Gopoian

About

When I was in third grade, I wrote an illustrated story about two girls named Monica and Michele, who became best friends and accidentally went to space. The teacher had all of our stories bound, and this was my first publication.

In college I wrote short stories, but in grad school, my stories got shorter and shorter until I had to admit they were poems. Ten years ago, I started writing fiction again, which led to connected stories, which led to a novel. 

 

I am lucky enough to have a job that I love, teaching developmental reading and writing at a community college in the South Bronx. I live in Jackson Heights, Queens, with my husband, two kids and a dog.

 

I earned an MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2002 and a BA in Creative Writing from Oberlin College in 1996.

 

My writing has appeared in the New York Times (a collaboration with my cartoonist husband), and numerous literary journals. Joyce Carol Oates selected my poem, "It Grows Wild Here," as a finalist for the 2005 Marjorie J. Wilson Award for Excellence in Poetry. My chapbook, "Terrible Person," was a finalist for the Caketrain Poetry Chapbook Contest in 2007, selected by Claudia Rankine.

 

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Publications

Op-Art, "Godless and Penniless: A Christmas Story" and "The Creche," the New York Times in collaboration with my cartoonist husband, David Heatley, 2007 and 2008.

Essay, "Love's Yalanchi," published in Storied Dishes: What Our Family Recipes Tell Us About Who We Are and Where We've Been, Linda Murray Berzok, ed., 2010.

Poems, "Split," "Worship Me" and "Breakup," Bateau, Vol. 2, Issue 1, 2009.

 

Poem, "Letters," Jubilat, Issue 16, 2009.

Poems, "Detonate," "Work" and "Nothing Burns on the Moon," Drunken Boat, Issue 10, 2009.

Poems, "My body changed when you gave it to me," "With all the words, I let them go" and "She turns upon a pinecone, dead and dry," EOAGH Issue 4, 2008.

Poem, "You and Me," Sleeping Fish, Issue 0.75, 2005.

Poem, "Patience," elimae.
 

Poem, "We Killed the Flower," Tarpaulin Sky, Vol. 3, Number 2, 2005.

Poems, "Walking Song," "Plunge" and "Talking through Walls," the Avatar Review, Issue 4, 2004.

Poem, "Travel across your mind to a terrible place," Bombay Gin 29, 2003.

Poems, "A fact of life for him," "In a grown boy" and "I can think of three hundred things," the Denver Quarterly, Volume 31:1, Spring 2002.

 

Current Project

At the end of World War I, my grandfather, Khazaros Gopoian, served as a gamavor, an Armenian volunteer soldier with the French Foreign Legion. Much of his family had been killed during the Genocide, but he, along with many other Armenian men, went back to fight, hoping to get some part of their country back.

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Khazaros Gopoian (far left) and other gamavors "at Marmadza after Batle of Arara, 1918."

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A page from my grandfather's diary

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Wedding photo of Areknaz or Nevart Krikorian and Khazaros Gopoian, Aug. 26, 1920, Adana

My grandfather kept a diary about his experience, which my father translated and published for our family. A copy is also in the archive at the Armenian Museum and Library in Watertown, MA. This short text, along with the 500-page, highly detailed memoir of my uncle, Levon Gopoian, a Genocide survivor, inspired my novel. 

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The hand-written pages of Levon Gopoian's memoir. These are some of many notebooks he filled.

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Levon Gopoian's memoir, translated by Aris Sevag and printed by my dear aunt, Lovenia Gopoian

What could have made my grandfather go back to Turkey after all that his family had suffered? What was going through my grandmother's mind the moment her wedding photo was taken? How does trauma filter into the lives of generations that follow? What does it mean to be a survivor? These questions, among many others, compelled me to research and write the book.

 
Teaching

For the past nine years, I have had the  pleasure of teaching developmental reading and writing for CUNY Start at  Hostos Community College in the Bronx.  The program offers intensive instruction to students who have been accepted to college but fail the placement tests in reading, writing and math. 

Here's a video about our Reading and Writing program, featuring me  in action:

Here are some inspiring CUNY  Start alumni stories.

New York Times article, "Ending the Curse of Remedial Math,highlighting the amazing Math program at CUNY Start/Hostos.

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