Peter Balakian

Back to Directory

Peter Balakian

Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor in Humanities, Professor of English

Department/Office Information

English and Creative Writing
415 Lathrop Hall

Peter Balakian is the author of eight books of poems including Ozone Journal which won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Other collections include No Sign (2022), Ziggurat (2010), and June-tree: New and Selected Poems, 1974-2000 (2001). His prose books include Vise and Shadow: Selected Essays on Lyric Imagination, Poetry, Art, and Culture (2015, The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response(HarperCollins, 2004), won the 2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book and a New York Times and national Best Seller. His memoir, Black Dog of Fate won the 1998 PEN/Martha Albrand Prize for the Art of the Memoir, and was a best book of the year for the New York Times, the LA Times, and Publisher’s Weekly, and was issued in a 10th anniversary edition. He is co-translator of Grigoris Balakian’s Armenian Golgotha: A Memoir of the Armenian Genocide 1915-1918, (Knopf, 2009), which was a Washington Post book of the year.

He is also the author of a book on the American poet Theodore Roethke and the co translator of the Armenian poet Siamanto’s Bloody News From My Friend Grigoris Balakian’s The Ruins of Ani. Between 1976-1996 he edited with Bruce Smith the poetry journal Graham House Review. He is the recipient of many awards and prizes and civic citations including a Presidential Medal and the Moves Khoranatsi Medal from the Republic of Armenia, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Emily Clark Balch Prize for poetry from the Virginia Quarterly Review, the Spendlove Prize for Social Justice, Tolerance and Diplomacy, and Anahid Literary Prize. He has appeared widely on national television and radio including PBS News Hour 60 Minutes, ABC World News Tonight, PBS, Charlie Rose, CNN, C-SPAN, NPR, Fresh Air, etc), and his work have appeared in a dozen languages including Armenian, Bulgarian, French, Dutch, Greek, German, Hebrew, Russian, and Turkish.

BA, Bucknell University, 1973; PhD, Brown University, 1980

American poetry, creative writing: poetry, genocide studies, Armenian genocide

American poetry, contemporary poetry and creative non-fiction, modern poetry in translation, genocide studies, trauma studies, post WWI American Art

  • Ozone Journal (poems, University of Chicago Press, 2015)
  • Vise and Shadow  Essays on the lyric imagination, poetry, art and culture (poems, University of Chicago Press, 2015)
  • Ziggurat (poems, University of Chicago Press, 2010)
  • Armenian Golgotha, a memoir of the Armenian Genocide by Grigoris Balakian, translator with Aris Sevag, (Knopf, 2009)
  • The Burning Tigris; The Armenian Genocide and America's Response (HarperCollins, 2003)
  • June-tree: New and Selected Poems 1974-2000 (HarperCollins, 2001)
  • Black Dog of Fate: A Memoir (Basic Books, 1997; 10th anniversary edition, 2009)
  • Dyer's Thistle (poems, Carnegie Mellon Univ. Press, 1996)
  • Bloody News From My Friend by Siamanto (translation, Wayne State Univ. Press, 1996)
  • Theodore Roethke's Far Fields (Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1989)
  • Reply From Wilderness Island (poems, Sheep Meadow Press, 1988)
  • Sad Days of Light (poems, Sheep Meadow Press, 1983)
  • Father Fisheye (poems, Sheep Meadow Press, 1979)
  • Editor, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story (Wayne State Univ. Press, 2003)
  • Poetry and essays in The Nation, Art in America, American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, Partisan Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Poetry, The New York Times Magazine, etc.
  • Editor with Bruce Smith, Graham House Review, a journal of contemporary poetry, 1976-1996.

Weekend Edition interview 
With Scott Simon — September 2010
Hear/read interview

60 Minutes Interview: Battle Over History
Subject: Armenian holocaust — February 2010
View Story

Work published in "Poet's Choice" article of the Washington Post — 2006
View article

"The Voice of History," New Letters, Vol. 67, No. 3, 2001
Interviewed by Rebekah Presson Mosby
View transcript

Some Notes On Falling Into A Rug Introspections, etc. ed.
Pack and Parini — University of New England Press, 1997
View poetry

The Cortland Review
Peter Balakian interview, transcript, and audio, including poetry reading — March 2001
View more

When History and Poetry Collide
By Wendy Smith — Publishers Weekly, October 2003
View article

Massachusetts and Genocide
By Peter Balakian and Gregory H. Stanton — Boston Globe, December 2005
View editorial

How A Poet Writes History Without Going Mad
By Peter Balakian — The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 2004
View article

Lessons from the Armenian Genocide and America's Response
US Holocaust Memorial Museum interview — Voices on Genocide Prevention, October 2006

Appearance on NPR's "Fresh Air"
With Terry Gross — May 1997
View summary

Appearances on Charlie Rose 1997, 2004, 2009
  • Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 2016 for Ozone Journal. (Announcement)
  • Alice and Clifford Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy and Tolerance, 2012 (News Item)
  • PBS Newshour's Poem of the week, September 7, 2010 
  • Emily Clark Balch Prize for poetry, Virginia Quarterly Review, 2007
  • Movses Khorenatsi Medal, Republic of Armenia, 2007
  • Raphael Lemkin Prize, 2005 (The Burning Tigris)
  • National Endowment for the Arts fellowship 2004-05
  • Guggenheim fellowship 1999-2000
  • PEN/Martha Albrand Prize for Memoir, 1998 (Black Dog of Fate)
  • New Jersey Council for the Humanities Book Prize, 1998 (Black Dog of Fate)
  • Anahit Literary Prize, Columbia University, 1990
  • New York Times and Los Angeles Times notable books of 1997 (Black Dog of Fate)
  • New York Times and Publishers Weekly notable books of 2003 (The Burning Tigris)
  • Washington Post Notable Books of 2009 (Armenian Golgotha)