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Armenian longing

May 18th, 2021

A descendent of Armenian genocide survivors, SFU professor Celeste Nazeli Snowber explores the relationship between longing, belonging and identity in her third poetry collection The Marrow of Longing (HARP Publishing $24.95). Snowber traces intergenerational trauma, her own heartaches and bodily yearnings, and lessons from kitchen conversations, to uncover universal themes.

The inherited trauma of the Armenian genocide marked Snowber’s childhood. Her poems express the culture’s sense of loss, counterbalanced by being a survivor and witness. In reflecting on her early years, Snowber explores universal experiences: fragments of grandparents, parental love letters, cooking, night time prayers and relationship to place. “Fragments can hold a world,” she says.

Motherhood is a recurring theme in Snowber’s poems. She recalls lessons learned in conversations with her mother: biographical details, traditional recipes, and ancestral wisdom.

“My mother had an / eggplant soul / a beauty of both / dark and light / rough and tender…the meeting of art and life / just beneath the skin of plum black.”

Snowber’s collection has received testimonials from film director Atom Egoyan and B.C. poet Susan McCaslin.

“It’s so good to see our artists continue to carefully share our complex and unresolved history through their personal journeys,” says Egoyan and McCaslin describes The Marrow of Longing as “a liminal site where land, food bodysoul, the domestic and wild intermesh… a world where an Armenian mother’s sweeping of floors sweeps us into an ever present, enduring love.”

Visit or directly at for information about readings and events connected to The Marrow of Longing.


Celeste Nazeli Snowber, PhD, is a dancer, poet, writer and Professor of Education at Simon Fraser University. Her previous books include Embodied prayer and Embodied inquiry: Writing, living and being through the body. Her two previous poetry collections are Wild tourist: Instructions to a wild tourist from the divine feminine and Blue Waiting (co-authored).

Celeste Snowber. Photo Michele Mateus.

One Response to “Armenian longing”

  1. SC Brouwer says:

    I found this book very moving and insightful, with images that come back and linger on my mind.

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