Country of Dust: Nyree Abrahamian's Creative Journey Through Storytelling in Armenia
Get to know Nyree Abrahamian, writer, creative producer, and our 2023 Creative Armenia-AGBU Fellow
Oct 20, 2023 | by Creative Armenia
Nyree Abrahamian, 2023 Creative Armenia-AGBU Fellow
Nyree Abrahamian, a 2023 Creative Armenia-AGBU Fellow, is a writer and creative producer driven by the transformative power of storytelling. In this article, we delve into her artistic inspirations and her evolving understanding of "storytelling with a purpose." Nyree's journey is impacted by the 2020 Artsakh war which has ignited her passion for narratives that connect and resonate with others. She has embarked on diverse creative projects, including the narrative podcast "Country of Dust," which immerses listeners in the life stories of people living in a changing Armenia. Nyree's work exemplifies the potential of storytelling to foster connections and inspire change in a dynamic world.
Tell us a little about how you began your journey of becoming a writer and creative producer.
Writing is where I’ve always felt most in my element, but I never considered a career in the arts. Growing up, I was surrounded by people who had “practical” jobs, and up until recently, the primary way I applied my creative energy was to bring it to my work as an educator and consultant.
The 2020 Artsakh War was a pivotal moment for me. It’s when I started to understand the importance of storytelling, both as a means to process what we are going through and as a way to connect with others. Since then, I’ve begun to intentionally carve out time and space to develop as a writer and creative producer.
"Any story that resonates, that helps a person feel less alone in their experience, or more connected to something larger than themselves, serves an important purpose."
Tell us about your creative inspirations and what you have learned from them.
I’m inspired by everyday life in Armenia – the highs and lows and everything in between. It can be intense, but I definitely feel alive here in a way that compels me to create.
I’m inspired by my children. Being a parent requires me to stretch, empathize, and pay attention to both the tiniest details and the big picture. This inevitably works its way into my art.
I’m also inspired by the books that I read, the podcasts that I listen to, and other art and media that I engage with. I love it when I feel like my ideas are in conversation with someone else’s, without ever having spoken to the person.
You’ve noted that “storytelling with a purpose” is the single thread that has guided you through your career choices. Can you elaborate on your understanding of “purpose” in the context of storytelling? How has your definition evolved or deepened over time, if at all?
Any story that resonates, that helps a person feel less alone in their experience, or more
connected to something larger than themselves, serves an important purpose. This is something that I have learned over time.
I’ve always been purpose-driven, but earlier in my career, I gravitated more toward projects with measurable outcomes because it felt important to have proof of direct, tangible impact. With experience, my confidence has grown, and I trust more in the value of what I create. So my definition of “storytelling with a purpose” has expanded, and it’s very freeing.
Your creative endeavors are impressive and varied – a podcast, a poetry collection, a co-founder of an international festival, and more. In the process of storytelling, which creative or artistic medium are you drawn towards the most? Which ones come to you more naturally and which ones are more of a challenge to tackle?
It really depends on the project and what I’m trying to communicate.
"Each week, we bring you one person’s story, and through their specific experiences, hope to shed light on broader phenomena that Armenia and Armenians are experiencing collectively."
In late 2020, after spending some time in Artsakh, I was trying to write a long-form article that would capture the multiple layers of uncertainty in the immediate aftermath of the war. But rather than a neat narrative, what came out was a disordered and fragmented series of images. It wasn’t intentional, but poetry presented itself as the best medium to carry the tone and pitch of what I needed to convey.
With "Country of Dust," my co-producers and I wanted to get to the heart of the nuanced and varied experience of life in Armenia today, and it felt like it needed to be conversational, so it made sense to think of it as a series of audio documentaries.
As a Creative Armenia-AGBU Fellow you work on your new podcast "Country of Dust." Tell us more about it and how people can access it.
"Country of Dust" is a narrative podcast that tells the stories of life in a changing Armenia. My co-producers, Jeremy Dalmas, Gohar Khachatryan and I set out to make the podcast that we would want to listen to about Armenia – something that gets beyond the basic facts and immerses you in a story, whether you live in Armenia, follow the country from afar, or are learning about it for the first time.
Each week, we bring you one person’s story, and through their specific experiences, hope to shed light on broader phenomena that Armenia and Armenians are experiencing collectively – from the highs and lows of the revolution and its aftermath to the Artsakh war, to the recent influx of Russians as a result of the war in Ukraine, to lighter topics, like the blossoming of wine culture.
Our entire first season is out now – an introduction plus eight episodes. You can listen by searching “Country of Dust” on any podcast platform, or at this link. And we’ve just put out a special episode in response to the unimaginable moment we are living through, the ethnic cleansing of Artsakh.