Poet Peter Balakian on the Armenian Genocide
On Sunday, 60 Minutes featured a segment on the forced deportation and massacre of more than one million Christian Armenians in Turkey during the first World War. The Armenians refer to it as their holocaust, but the Turkish and United States governments have refused to call it genocide. In the piece, 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon takes a trip to what is now Syria to a mass unmarked grave, which contains the remains of nearly half a million Armenians. There, he digs at the dirt and turns up dozens of bone fragments—relics of a disputed past.
Accompanying Simon is the writer Peter Balakian. Though perhaps best known for his memoirs and non-fiction work on the Armenian genocide, Balakian is also an accomplished poet, and this fall he will join the Press’s prestigious Phoenix Poets list with his first book of verse in nine years. Ziggurat explores loss, war, love, and art in a new age of American uncertainty. Whether recalling the ride up the elevators of the World Trade Towers, walking the ruins of the Bosnian National Library in Sarajevo, meditating on Andy Warhol’s silk screens, or considering the confluence of music, language, and memory, Balakian continues his exploration of history, myth, and self that his readers have enjoyed over the years. Employing an impressive variety of forms and styles, he wrestles in the poems with the desire to outlast human forces of obliteration.
The book will be available in October 2010. In the meantime, for more on Balakian and the Armenian genocide, check out the 60 Minutes report below.