Colgate professor explores 9/11 in new book of poems

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balakian081910.jpgAs the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks approaches, Colgate professor Peter Balakian, a prize winning and internationally distinguished writer whose work
has been translated into many languages, explores the aftermath of 9/11
in his new book of poems, Ziggurat (University of Chicago Press).

Balakian will also appear on
NPR’s Weekend Edition on Sept. 11 and a poem from Ziggurat
will be the Poem of The Week on PBS’s The NewsHour website on Sept. 7.

“I think a poet’s voice can be a contribution to the national
conversation about 9/11,” said Balakian, Constance H. and Donald M.
Rebar Professor in the Humanities and professor of English.

In Ziggurat, which will
be published Sept. 11, he wrestles with the reverberations of 9/11
through a lens of personal memory, history, and myth.


• At 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 16, Balakian will join Bob ’83 and Lee ’82 Woodruff in New York City for a book reading to mark the anniversary of 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan. Balakian and the Woodruffs will read from their books and discuss the harsh and intimate realities of confronting personal and political trauma. More information about the event can be found here.

• Balakian is one of 10 authors participating in the upcoming Living Writers course, which includes live webcasts.

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As a mail runner in downtown
Manhattan in the late ’60s and ’70s, Balakian, a New Jersey native, worked
inside and around the World Trade Center.

“This is a book about New York: the New York I knew when the twin towers were built in the late sixties, and the New York I saw when the towers fell,” he noted.

A group of poems about the Towers won the Emily
Clark Balch Prize for poetry from the Virginia Quarterly Review.

The poem creates a mosaic of
perspectives in which Balakian sees the towers as monument, a shifting
symbol of capitalism, a simple workplace, and an imaginative zone of
light, sound, and vision.

Ziggurat is Balakian’s
first poetry collection since June-Tree: New and Selected Poems,
which Library Journal noted as “one of the most significant
poetry collections of 2001.”

Balakian, director of creative
writing at Colgate, is the author of nine books including The Burning
Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response
, a New York
notable book and best seller. His memoir Black Dog of Fate
won the PEN/Albrand Prize and was a New York Times notable book.