Ruben Sevak

Time: 19th Century
Genres: Poetry - Prose
Language: Western Armenian

(born February 15, 1885 – died August 26, 1915) Armenian poet, prose writer, doctor.

Ruben Sevak was born in 1885 in Silivri village near Istanbul. He studied at preliminary school of his birthplace, then until 1901 he studied at Partizak College. In 1905 he graduated from Istanbul Perperyan College, and in 1911 medical faculty of Lozan University. From 1911 to 1914 he worked at one of the hospitals of Lozan city. In 1915 he returned to Istanbul, was detained and martyred with the group together with Varuzhan, Siamanto and others.

In the spring of 1909 when 30000 people were killed in Adana during the massacres conducted by young turks government, Ruben Sevak was one of those national activists who along with Arshak Chopanyan, Andranik Ozanyan, Paramaz and others was warning about increasing threat.

Sevak’s first poem (“Words of Divorce”) was published in 1905 in “Masis” magazine. His collection of poems named “Red Book” was published in 1910. The poet wanted to gather his poems written in different periods and publish collections named “Book of Love”, “The Chaos”, and “Last Armenians” but tragic death left unfinished this and many other initiatives of the poet. Sevak’s works remained diffused in the pages of different periodicals (“Masis”, “Byuzandion”, “Vostan”, “Oriental Press”, “Geghuni”, “Bazmavep”, “Aragats”, “Renaissance”, “All Almanac”, etc…).

Sevak wrote about love, nature, social and national patriotic topics. The idea of social unfairness, complaint and rebellion is greatly expressed in Sevak’s poems such as “Prayer to the Money” (1907), “Red Flag” (1909), “This Knife” (1909), “Troubadours” (1910), “Street Cleaner” (1911), “Mardergutyun” (1909). These were one of the best and unique works created in western Armenian poetry over such themes.

Sevak’s prose works are multi genre – articles, stories, public dialogues, lyrical thoughts, etc… Sevak also wrote books named “Pages Taken from Doctor’s Book” (1913), “Life has won” (1913), “Krunk” (1913), “Horrible Undecided” (1914), “Brides’ Secret” (1914), etc… These compositions express high civil character of patriotic and humanist poet. Sevak was creating a new genre of prose in the history of western Armenian literature.

Ruben Sevak, who was killed by a Turkish sword in 1915, was defending his ideas with not only words and pen but he also proved his devotion to the nation with the price of his own life.

Before his death Turkish butchers offered him to take Islam, get married with the daughter of a Turkish official and that way he would save his life.  Famous Armenian activists, who together with Sevak were in the exile, were assuring him to agree with the offer and get saved. But Sevak remained loyal to his family, his children and became martyr of 1915 cruel genocide.