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ON BEING ASKED TO SUPPLY DATE OF BIRTH FOR A LITERARY ENCYCLOPEDIA By Diana Der-Hovanessian I am thirteen years old. Forever. Pasternak said he was fourteen. But I am younger. Just starting but no longer a child. And aging fast. Although the world stays new and wet behind the ears. I just begin to understand that I will never understand. And I am in love as if for the first time with the written word. This affair began when my grandfather promised me that true love would always be returned. I was conceived in 1915 when the blood of my other grandparents soaked through the earth of Kharpert and seeped, seeped until the thirties when it reached Worcester, Massachusetts. I was born in a garden when war cracked the face of the earth that had not listened to the 1915 blood. I was born in the New York City subway when everyone turned to stare at my American legs. I was born in the Boston University Mugar Library the first time I heard Gerard Manley Hopkins playing with words. I arrived after difficult labor in the seventies attended by physicians named Narek, Siamanto and Varoujan who decided I might be worth saving. That was thirteen years ago. -- Diana Der Hovanessian is a Fulbright professor of American literature at Yerevan State University in 1994 and 1999, she is author of 17 books and has published in American Scholar, Poetry, Harvard Review, Nation, Paris Review, New Republic, and her poetry is regularly published in the Christian Science Monitor. She has awards from the Columbia Translation Center, P.E.N., Writers Union of America, and the Writers Union of Armenia.