Aram Saroyan

Aram Saroyan in 2011. Photo courtesy Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center and Flickr Commons.

Aram Saroyan
Born September 25, 1943 (1943-09-25) (age 76)
New York City
Citizenship United States American
Notable work(s) Lighght
Children Strawberry Saroyan
Cream Saroyan
Relative(s) William Saroyan (father)
Carol Grace (mother)
Lucy Saroyan (sister)
Walter Matthau (step-father)

Aram Saroyan (born September 25, 1943) is an American poet, novelist, biographer, memoirist and playwright, most famous as the author of "lighght".

Life Edit

Saroyan was born in New York City.[1] His parents were playwright and author William Saroyan and actress Carol Grace and his sister was actress Lucy Saroyan. He is the father of Strawberry and Cream Saroyan.[2] He is of Armenian and Jewish descent.

Writing Edit

Saroyan's poetry has been widely anthologized and appears in many textbooks. Among the collections of his poetry are Aram Saroyan, Pages, and Day & Night: Bolinas Poems, the latter published by Black Sparrow Press in 1998.[3]

There has been a resurgence of interest in his work in the 21st century. In 2007 several previous collections were reissued together as Complete Minimal Poems by Ugly Duckling Presse of Brooklyn.

Saroyan's prose books include Genesis Angels: The Saga of Lew Welch and the Beat Generation; Last Rites, a book about the death of his father, the playwright and short story writer William Saroyan.[4] In 1988, Saroyan wrote the teleplay for an episode of St. Elsewhere.[5]

The Ubuweb site (linked below) says:

The groundbreaking 1960s concrete poetry of Aram Saroyan [including] The Street, a film based on Saroyan's life during that period. Other works include three full-length books of classic concrete poetry: Pages (Random House, 1969), Aram Saroyan (Random House, 1968), and Cloth: An Electric Novel (Big Table, 1971). Saroyan chronicles his making of these poems in his essay Flower Power and his historical position is noted in Mary Ellen Solt's 1968 Concrete Poetry: A World View : United States

His 1968 book, Aram Saroyan, was almost a full-size representation of its contents as they could be presented in typescript or mimeograph, in Courier typeface, printed on 1 side of each leaf in what looked like unevenly inked print, with a total of only 30 poems. Edwin Newman, a reporter for NBC news, read the entire book aloud on the "NBC Evening News".[6]

Lighght Edit

One of Saroyan's most famous poems was his 1965 poem "lighght" (which was simply the unconventionally spelled word "lighght" in the center of a blank page). This poem was selected by George Plimpton to be featured in The American Literary Anthology and, like all poems in the volume, received a $500 cash award from the National Endowment for the Arts, then just 5 years old. The NEA was created in the same year the poem was written, 1965. Many conservatives, such as Representative William Scherle and Senator Jesse Helms, objected at the per-word amount of the award, complaining that the word was not a real poem and was not even spelled correctly. This was the NEA's first major controversy; 25 years after it was written "Ronald Reagan was still making pejorative allusions to “lighght.” "[7]

Saroyan currently teaches in University of Southern California's Master of Professional Writing Program.


The Poetry Society of America awarded Complete Minimal Poems the 2008 William Carlos Williams Award.[8]



  • Works: 24 poems. New York: privately published, 1966.
  • Sled Hill Voices: 13 poems. London: Goliard Press, 1966.
  • Coffee Coffee. New York: 0 to 9 Books, 1967.
  • Aram Saroyan. New York: Random House, 1968.
  • Pages. New York: Random House, 1969.
  • Expose: Concrete poetry. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University, 1970.
  • The Rest. New York: Telegraph Books, 1971.
  • Poems. Yeadon, PA: Telegraph Books, 1972.
  • O My Generation, and other poems. Blackberry Books, 1976.
  • Day and Night: Bolinas poems. Santa Rosa, CA: Black Sparrow, 1998.
  • Day by Day: Poems. New Orleans, LA: Fell Swoop / All Bohemian Review, [2002?]
  • Complete Minimal Poems. New York: Ugly Duckling Presse, 2007.


  • The Street: An autobiographical novel. Lenox, MA: Bookstore Press, 1974.
  • The Romantic. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1988.
  • Cloth: An electric novel. Chicago: Big Table, 1971.

Short fictionEdit

  • The Library at Night: A short story. Bolinas, CA: privately published, [1974?]
  • Artists in Trouble: New stories. Santa Rosa, CA: Black Sparrow, 2001.
  • Four Monologues. Chicago: Epicenter, 2011.


  • Words and Photographs. Chicago: Big Table, 1970.
  • Meet Uncle Aram. Boston, MA: H.H. Toumayan, 1970.
  • Genesis Angels: The saga of Lew Welch and the beat generation. New York: Morrow, 1979.
  • Last Rites: The death of William Saroyan. New York: Morrow, 1982.
  • William Saroyan. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983.
  • Trio: Oona Chaplin, Carol Matthau, Gloria Vanderbilt: Portrait of an intimate friendship. New York: Linden Press / Simon & Schuster, 1985.
  • Friends in the World: The education of a writer: A memoir. Minneapolis, MN: Coffee House Press, 1992.
  • Rancho Mirage: An American tragedy of manners, madness, and murder. New York: Barricade Books, 1993.
  • The Take Matters: Notes about writing and life. Los Angeles: Figueroa Press, 2010.
  • Door to the River: Essays and reviews from the 1960s into the digital age. Boston: Godine, 2010.
  • Starting out in the Sixties: Selected essays. Jersey City, NJ: Talisman, 2011.


  • The William Saroyan Reader. New York: Barricade Books, 1994.
Aram Saroyan - Crickets

Aram Saroyan - Crickets

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[9]

See alsoEdit



  1. The Brautigan Archives, "Aran Saroyan (b. 1943)", accesses June 13, 2007
  2. Saroyan, Strawberry (May 30, 2004). "VIEW; Named for a Fruit? Make Juice". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  3. Day & Night: Bolinas Poems (Santa Rosa) Black Sparrow Press, 1998 ISBN 1-57423-085-9
  4. "Aram Saroyan, USA b. 1943". UBUWEB HISTORICAL. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  5. ""Saint Elsewhere" Split Decision". Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  6. Richard Hell, "Lighght Verse" a review of "Complete Minimal Poems" of Aram Saroyan, in The New York Times Book Review, April 27, 2008, accessed May 3, 2008
  7. Daly, Ian, "You Call That Poetry?!: How seven letters managed to freak out an entire nation", Poetry Foundation, 2007.
  8. Aram Saroyan, Poetry Foundation. Web, Nov. 26, 2012.
  9. Search results = au:Aram Saroyan, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Feb. 4, 2015.

External linksEdit

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