Nancy Agabian was born in 1968 to Armenian American parents in Walpole, Massachusetts, where she grew up. She later attended Wellesley College, graduating with a Studio Art major. In 1990, she moved to Los Angeles, where she started writing poetry in Michelle T. Clinton’s multicultural women’s poetry workshop at Beyond Baroque Literary/Art Center in Venice. Over time, she created and performed several one woman shows. Her first book, Princess Freak (Beyond Baroque Books, 2000), a collection of poems and performance art texts, documents her coming of age as a “bisexual Armenian Princess Freak.” For the traditional Armenian community, Princess Freak provided the much needed voice—funny, self-deprecating, and blunt—of a young woman questioning her sexuality and determining her future apart from her parents.
In 1999, Nancy moved to New York to attend Columbia University’s MFA Writing Program, where she became a Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fellow. Her master’s thesis was an early draft of Me as her again: True Stories of an Armenian Daughter (Aunt Lute Books, 2008). The book tells of her quests to L.A., New York, and the interior of Turkey to discover a unique identity between her Armenian family history and queer identity, via the stories of her genocide survivor grandmother and her feminist mother who came of age during the conservative 1950s in America.
Nancy is currently working on a nonfiction novel set between New York and Yerevan about corruption, activism, and social change as represented in the personal lives of artists. She teaches writing at Queens College and at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. As a community writing workshop leader, she has worked with women writers in Yerevan and multicultural groups in Queens, New York, where she lives.
To learn more about Nancy and her work, visit her website.
True Stories of an Armenian Daughter
By Nancy Agabian
Untangling knots of personal identity and family history, Nancy Agabian deftly weaves a narrative alternately comical and wrenching. Moving between memories of growing up Armenian and American in Walpole, Massachusetts, and her later experiences at Wellesley College, then Hollywood and, finally, Turkey, Agabian offers an illuminating meditation on the sometimes bizarre entanglement of individual desire (sexual and otherwise) in the web of family life and history. At the heart of this unraveling is a grappling with the history of trauma and upheaval experienced by her paternal grandmother, who survived the Armenian Genocide, and the legacy of that wounding experience for Agabian and her extended family.
PRAISE FOR ME AS HER AGAIN
"What’s so refreshing about Agabian’s prose is her marvelously open, daring, and honest inquiry into the self. Our “enfant terrible”—she has yet again managed to capture us with her quirky, brilliant stories."
—Shushan Avagyan, author of Girk-anvernagir; translator of I Want to Live: Poems of Shushanik Kurghinian
My favorite song from Nancy Agabian’s improbably vivid “Guitar Boy” punk rock period a decade ago was the genius anthem “I Don’t Want to be a Victim Anymore.” Though as she noted at the time, when you’re a mousily timid, family-mired, Armenian bisexual artist, not tending toward victimhood isn’t all that easy. But you know what? By the end of this splendidly engrossing memory chronicle, she’s pulled it off. She’s no victim. What she is is funny, smart, generous and wise. And she’s my hero.
—Lawrence Weschler, National Book Critics Circle Award Winner, Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences