elise youssoufian


Photo of Elise Youssoufian Above: Elise in Musaler (2019)

A new year, new moon poem (2024):

bliss of gravity
falling back to let Earth catch
you and me, safe, free

A lifelong learner with a world-shaped heart, Elise Youssoufian (Էլիզ Եուսուֆեան) is a Turtle Island (US)-based Armenian poet, weaver, scholar and singer committed to healing and liberation. In 2022, she returned to the Lisjan (Ohlone) territory of Huchiun (Oakland, CA) after living in Armenia for two years, where she climbed mountains and studied ancient needlework and carpet-weaving traditions with celebrated artisans.

Life-affirming rituals of repair and restoration guide Elise onward as she explores the burdens and blessings of her lineages. Once upon a time, on farms and vineyards in historic Armenia (today’s eastern Turkey), her ancestors worked the land, weaving patterns of language, story and place until disruptions loomed. As the granddaughter of displaced genocide survivors, offspring of orphaned immigrants, and survivor of childhood violence, Elise is fueled by solidarity with all who are targeted, and by the belief another world is possible.

Currently in a Women’s Spirituality PhD program researching Indigenous textile traditions, Elise holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Writing, studied folklore and psychology at UC Berkeley, and has been a dedicated Aikido student since 2022. In the wake of the 2020 war in Artsakh (a.k.a. Nagorno-Karabakh), while in Armenia she reflected on wounding and healing for the Armenian Weekly column, “Walking and Asking,” and crafted an arts activism initiative, Sound of Ten Thousand Stones. Her written works can also be found in International Gallerie, HyeBred, Fools Fables, the Armenian Poetry Project and Kooyrigs’ forthcoming Looys: Voices of Resistance in Verse. At centers of culture and healing, Elise has offered poetry, visual art and music on Ohlone lands (San Francisco Bay Area), the Diné Nation, Istanbul, Yerevan and beyond. She loves to work with her hands and dreams of home.

  • Armenian Carpet-Weaving Certificate / KTUT Armenian Carpet and Rug (Yerevan): 2022
  • Pranic Healing Certificate / Eco Ayurvedic and Yoga Center (Yerevan): 2022
  • Trauma-Informed Leadership Certificate / Pocket Project (Online): 2021
  • Master of Fine Arts, Interdisciplinary Arts and Writing / California Institute of Integral Studies (San Francisco): 2021
  • Principles of Collective Trauma Healing Certificate / Pocket Project (Online): 2021
  • Clinical Musician Board Certification / Harp for Healing (Online): 2019
  • Reiki I Certification / AbSOULute Health (Oakland): 2015
  • Sound, Voice and Music Healing Certificate / California Institute of Integral Studies (SF): 2015
  • Armenian Needlelace / Armenia and Turtle Island (US): 2021 onward
  • Private Voice Lessons, Group Workshops, Song Circles and Therapeutic Music / Turtle Island (US): 2014-2020
  • Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Metal Arts Instruction / The Crucible (Oakland): 2009-2014

  • Top of this page: Aruchavank, 7th century Armenian church (2021)
  • Home page: A matrilineal mountain path in Musaler, currently within the bounds of Turkey (2019)
  • “How does beauty resist?” is inspired by the life and works of Zabel Yessayan, via Nancy Agabian.
  • “What makes you come alive?” is from author, educator and civil rights leader Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”