Orient’s history comes alive in Suffolk Times columnist’s book

Pierre Gazarian featured

Sixteen years ago, Pierre Gazarian began documenting his life on the North Fork in columns for The Suffolk Times. Now, after spending a year revisiting those pieces, Mr. Gazarian has released “A Seagull on my Roof,” an anthology containing the majority of his columns.

Mr. Gazarian, 84, has lived part-time in Orient since the 1970s. Born in Paris, he moved to Brooklyn at age 15. One day, his older brother, Jean, cycled to Orient with a friend and returned home singing its praises. He encouraged Mr. Gazarian, their sister, Marie-Lise, and their mother and grandmother to travel east with him.

After years of splitting his time between the East End and Manhattan, Mr. Gazarian was asked to write columns for The Suffolk Times.

“I think they liked a couple of the letters I had written and comments I had made at meetings,” he said in a recent interview. “That’s when they offered me to try writing for The Suffolk Times.”

Mr. Gazarian spent a year working with friend Marie Kiernan to pull together the columns, nearly all of which are in the book.

“It’s about life, the world around us, people we know and people we don’t know,” he said of “A Seagull on my Roof,” which includes many pieces about his late wife, Nancy, and dog, Nina, whom he lovingly refers to in the book as “the queen of the house.”

“People were curious as to what I had done and that’s why I wrote the book,” he said.

Mr. Gazarian's book
Mr. Gazarian’s book ‘A Seagull on my Roof’ can be purchased at Burton’s Books in Greenport and the Country Store in Orient.

It was difficult for Mr. Gazarian to single out a favorite column, but he eventually settled on a “tender” piece about a deer speaking through a fence — one his sister also named as a favorite.

Another piece that spoke to her depicted a Thanksgiving dinner with their family.

“Pierre is, above all — maybe he won’t agree — a poet and a thinker and a philosopher,” his sister said. “For me his writing, even though it’s not an autobiography, tells of the people he enjoyed being with, that he admired. Many you know are from Orient, from Greenport or from Southold.”

In addition to his work for The Suffolk Times, Mr. Gazarian is a professional poet and has taken part in many readings at Orient’s Poquatuck Hall, as well as a published playwright whose work has been performed at North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck and Columbia University, the Alliance Française and the United Nations in New York. In 1990, the French government made him a Knight of the National Order.

A passionate artist, Mr. Gazarian also loves recreating history and “giving new life into old houses,” making them look beautiful once again, his sister said.

She said his love of preserving history was one of the factors that motivated him to publish a collection of his columns.

“During proofreading, I read them over and over and each time I enjoyed the warmth and the sense of humor,” Ms. Gazarian said. “He’s sarcastic and also very tender. There is something so warm about it. As you read the book, Orient comes alive.”

“A Seagull on my Roof” can be purchased at Burton’s Books in Greenport and the Country Store in Orient.

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Courtesy photo: Orient resident Pierre Gazarian, a frequent columnist for The Suffolk Times, recently compiled his columns in a book, ‘A Seagull on my Roof,’ which he published last month.