Detroit has itself a brand new resident.
Liana Aghajanian is the latest winner for Detroit’s Write A House program.
She was chosen from more than 200 entries and will move into a totally rehabilitated home just north of Hamtramck for a two-year residency.
Aghajanian had never been to Detroit before applying to the program, but tells us she’s read and heard about the city and its history for years and was drawn to it because of how it’s talked about in the media.
“The way that Detroit has been portrayed in the media has been very polarized. It’s either very high or very low, and I feel like the truth is somewhere in the middle,” Aghajanian says.
She looks forward to having the chance to explore Detroit herself and to find and write about that middle ground.
“My favorite types of stories are the ones that I get to spend a long time on, and this opportunity has given me the space, literally the space to think and breathe, but also the mental space,” she says.
Sarah Cox, co-founder of Detroit’s WAH, tells us that all kinds of factors are at play when choosing a winner from the pool of writers. Once they narrow it down to the top 10, “everyone’s a really great writer,” she says, and sometimes it just comes down to the writer’s individual circumstance and voice.
“I feel like she was very careful in her writing about context, and that’s something that we’d really like to see a lot more in Detroit writing,” Cox says.
Aghajanian was born in Iran to an Armenian family that came to the U.S. as refugees in 1988, during the Iran-Iraq War. She tells us she’s excited to explore the strong Armenian presence in Detroit.
“That’s actually one of the reasons that has attracted me to this city for a very long time. We have a very deep-rooted history here that spans over 100 years, and I think that a lot of that hasn’t explored,” she says.
Cox hopes that WAH will be able to provide writers with three houses every year “starting very soon.”
Aghajanian will begin her two-year residency early next year.