Synopses & Reviews
from "Ozone Journal"
Bachs cantata in B-flat minor in the cassette,
we lounged under the greenhouse-sky, the UVBs hacking
at the acids and oxides and then I could hear the difference
between an oboe and a bassoon
at the rivers edge under cover
trees breathed in our respiration;
there was something on the other side of the river,
something both of us were itching toward
radical bonds were broken, history became science.
We were never the same.
The title poem of Peter Balakian's Ozone Journal is a sequence of fifty-four short sections, each a poem in itself, recounting the speaker's memory of excavating the bones of Armenian genocide victims in the Syrian desert with a crew of television journalists in 2009. These memories spark othersthe dissolution of his marriage, his life as a young single parent in Manhattan in the nineties, visits and conversations with a cousin dying of AIDScreating a montage that has the feel of history as lived experience. Bookending this sequence are shorter lyrics that span times and locations, from Nairobi to the Native American villages of New Mexico. In the dynamic, sensual language of these poems, we are reminded that the history of atrocity, trauma, and forgetting is both global and ancient; but we are reminded, too, of the beauty and richness of culture and the resilience of love.
"In his new book, Ozone Journal, Balakian masterfully does the things nobody else does—derange history into poetry, make poetry painting, make painting culture, make culture living—and with a historical depth that finds the right experience in language."
"Balakian uses history to present readers with a fossil record of orchestrated disasters, both personal and on a grander scale. Though his memories are separated from the bones of Armenia’s great genocide by time and space and suffering, they have an organic quality that is fresh and uniquely personal."
The first-born son of his generation, Peter Balakian grew up in a close, extended family, sheltered by 1950s and '60s New Jersey suburbia and immersed in an all-American boyhood defined by rock 'n' roll, adolescent pranks, and a passion for the New York Yankees that he shared with his beloved grandmother. But beneath this sunny world lay the dark specter of the trauma his family and ancestors had experienced--the Turkish government's extermination of more than a million Armenians in 1915, including many of Balakian's relatives, in the century's first genocide.
In elegant, moving prose, Black Dog of Fate charts Balakian's growth and personal awakening to the facts of his family's history and the horrifying aftermath of the Turkish government's continued campaign to cover up one of the worst crimes ever committed against humanity. In unearthing the secrets of a family's past and how they affect its present, Black Dog of Fate gives fresh meaning to the story of what it means to be an American.
A prize-winning poet explores the Armenian past that haunted his family's American identity--dark secrets marked by the Turkish government's extermination of more than a million Armenians in 1915.
In this tenth anniversary edition of his award-winning memoir, New York Times
bestselling author Peter Balakian has expanded his compelling story about growing up in the baby-boom suburbs of the 50s and 60s and coming to understand what happened to his family in the first genocide of the twentieth centurythe Ottoman Turkish governments extermination of more than one million Armenians in 1915.
In this new edition, Balakian continues his exploration of the Armenian Genocide with new chapters about his journey to Aleppo and his trip to the Der Zor desert of Syria in his pursuit of his grandmothers life, bringing us closer to the twentieth centurys first genocide.
About the Author
Peter Balakian is the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor in Humanities and professor of English at Colgate University. He is the author of seven books of poems, most recently of Ziggurat and June-tree: New and Selected Poems, 1974–2000. He is also the author of The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response, a New York Times best seller, and Black Dog of Fate, a memoir. A new collection of essays, Vise and Shadow, is also available this spring from the University of Chicago Press.
Table of Contents
Name and Place
Pueblo 1, New Mexico
Pueblo 2, New Mexico
Pueblo, Christmas Dance
Joe Louiss Fist
Hart Crane in LA, 1927
Baseball Days, 61
Here and Now
Slum Drummers, Nairobi
Near the Border