Join the Armenian Institute and the International Armenian Literary Alliance on Sunday, June 5th, 2022 at 6 pm UK / 1 pm EST / 10 am PST / 9 pm EVN for a reading and discussion with Peter Balakian on No Sign, the author’s first collection since his Pulitzer Prize-winning Ozone Journal. The discussion will be led by Alan Semerdjian.
From the publisher: The poems of No Sign wrestle with current culture and politics, including challenges for the human species and the planet amid planetary transmutation and the impact of mass violence. Whether meditating on the sensual nature of fruits and vegetables, the COVID-19 pandemic, the Armenian Genocide, James Baldwin in France, or Arshile Gorky in New York, Balakian’s layered, elliptical language, wired phrases and shifting tempos engage both life’s harshness and beauty and define his inventive and distinctive style. At this collection’s heart is No Sign, the latest in Balakian’s series of long-form poems, following “A-Train/Ziggurat/ Elegy” (Ziggurat, 2010) and “Ozone Journal” (Ozone Journal, 2015). This dialogical, multi-sectioned poem set in the cliffs of the New Jersey Palisades finds an estranged couple encountering each other for the first time in years.
Ilya Kaminsky writes, “Balakian understands the bewildered music of our times, and No Sign, more than any other contemporary book of poetry, teaches us about the properties of time; we are inside the speech that is addressing time and opposing it, witnessing it and walking two steps ahead. This ‘time-sense’ is explored with depth in the brilliant title poem. Balakian is able to praise the world though he knows its ‘bitter history.’ And praise he does! The lyricism here is of utter beauty. No Sign is a splendid, necessary book.”
Balakian is the author of eight books of poems including Ozone Journal, which won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, and Ziggurat, both published by the University of Chicago Press. His memoir Black Dog of Fate won the PEN/Albrand Award and was a New York Times notable book, and The Burning Tigris won the Raphael Lemkin Prize and was a New York Times bestseller and New York Times notable book. He is Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities in the Department of English at Colgate University.
Semerdjian is a writer, musician and educator. His works include In the Architecture of Bone (GenPop Books, 2009), The Serpent and The Crane (a collaboration of poetry and music with Aram Bajakian), and several collections of critically-acclaimed albums covering a wide range of genres from singer-songwriter to free jazz and alternative rock. He has taught English and creative writing in public education for 25 years.