Peter Balakian

Peter Balakian. Photo by Colgate University. Licensed under Creative Commons, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Peter Balakian
Born 1951
Teaneck, New Jersey
Occupation Poet and nonfiction writer
Nationality United States American

Peter Balakian (born June 13, 1951) is an American poet and academic.

Life Edit

Balakian was born in Teaneck, New Jersey to an Armenian family. He was raised in Teaneck and Tenafly, New Jersey.[1] He earned a B.A. from Bucknell University, an M.A. from New York University, and a Ph.D., in American Civilization, from Brown University.[2] He has taught at Colgate University since 1980. He is the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities in the Department of English, and director of Colgate's creative writing program. He was the first director of Colgate’s Center for Ethics and World Societies.[2]

Career Edit

Balakian is the author of 6 books of poems and several fine limited editions. His poems have appeared widely in American magazines and journals such as The Nation, The New Republic, Antaeus, Partisan Review, Poetry, Agni, and The Kenyon Review; and in anthologies such as New Directions in Prose and Poetry, The Morrow Anthology of Younger American Poets, Poetry’s 75th Anniversary Issue (1987), The Wadsworth Anthology of Poetry and others.

Balakian’s memoir Black Dog of Fate (1997) won the PEN/Albrand Prize for memoir and a New York Times Notable Book. The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response (2003) received the 2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book and New York Times and national best seller.

Balakian is also the author of Theodore Roethke’s Far Fields (Louisiana State University Press, 1989).[2] His essays on poetry, culture, and art have appeared in many publications including Ararat, Art In America, American Poetry Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The American Quarterly, American Book Review, and Poetry.

Balakian was co-founder and co-editor (with Bruce Smith) of the poetry magazine Graham House Review, which was published from 1976 to 1996. He is the translator (with Nevart Yaghlian) of Bloody News From My Friend by the Armenian poet Siamanto (Wayne State University Press, 1996).

4 fine limited editions of Balakian’s poems have been published by The Press of Appletree Alley (Lewisburg, PA). Translations and editions of Balakian’s books appear in Armenian, Bulgarian, Dutch, German, Greek, Russian, and Turkish. Balakian has lectured widely in the United States and abroad and has appeared often on national television and radio.[2]


Balakian’s prizes and awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, 1999; National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, 2004; PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir, 1998; Raphael Lemkin Prize, 2005 (best book in English on the subject of human rights and genocide); New Jersey Council for the Humanities Book Award, 1998; Daniel Varoujan Prize, New England Poetry Club, 1986; Anahid Literary Prize, Columbia University Armenian Center, 1990. He is also a recipient of the Khorenatsi medal.

Balakian won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Ozone Journal.[3]

Publications Edit


  • Father Fisheye. New York: Sheep Meadow Press, 1979.
  • Sad Days of Light. New York: Sheep Meadow Press, 1983.
  • Reply From Wilderness Island: Poems. Riverdale-on-Hudson, NY: Sheep Meadow Press, 1988.
  • Dyer’s Thistle: Poems. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1996.
  • June-Tree: New and selected poems, 1974-2000. New York: HarperCollins, 2001; HarperCollins e-books, 2010.
  • Ziggurat. Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 2010.
  • Ozone Journal. Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 2015.


  • Theodore Roethke’s Far Fields: The evolution of his poetry. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1989.
  • Black Dog of Fate: A memoir. New York: Basic Books, 1997.
  • Art out of Atrocity: Works by Alice Lok Cahana and Robert Barsamian (with Jennifer Olson-Rudenko). Hamilton, NY: Picker Art Gallery, 1998.
  • The Burning Tigris: The Armenian genocide. London: Heinemann, 2002
    • published in U.S. as The Burning Tigris: The Armenian genocide and America's response. New York: HarperCollins, 2003
    • also published as The Burning Tigris: A history of the Armenian genocide. New York: HarperCollins, 2004.
  • Vise and Shadow: Essays on the lyric imagination, poetry, art, and culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.


  • Siamantʻō, Bloody News From My Friend: Poems (translated by Peter Balakian and Nevart Yaghlian). Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1996.
  • Grigoris Balakian, Armenian Golgotha. New York: Knopf, 2009.


  • Limited Editions (all from Pittsburgh, PA: Press of Appletree Alley)
    • Declaring Generations (engravings by Barnard Taylor). 1981.
    • Invisible Estate (woodcuts by Rosalyn Richards). 1985.
    • The Oriental Rug (engravings by Barnard Taylor). 1986.
    • Yad Vashem: Children's memorial (illustrated by Colleen Shannon). 1996.
  • Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story (preface by Robert Jay Lifton, introduction by Roger Smith, afterword by Henry Morgenthau III). Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2003.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[4]

Audio / videoEdit

Using poetry to shed light on the worst of memories, including genocide

Using poetry to shed light on the worst of memories, including genocide

  • Black Dog of Fate: A memoir (audiobook). Southfield, MI: Readings for the Blind, 1998.
  • The Burning Tigris: The Armenian genocide (CD). Boulder, CO: Alternative Radio, 2004.

Except where noted, discographical information courtesy WorldCat.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. Smith, Dinitia. "A Poet Knits Together Memories of Armenian Horrors", The New York Times, August 19, 1997. Accessed November 8, 2007. "Growing up in Tenafly, N.J., during the strange sweetness of a privileged childhood, the poet Peter Balakian could feel beneath the membrane of suburban life the intimations of his family's ancient and exotic Armenian culture and a dark and terrifying past."
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Bio, Bucknell University, 2009
  3. 2016 Pulitzer Prizes, Pulitzer Prize winners by year, Web, Sep. 12, 2016.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Search results = au:Peter Balakian, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Sep. 12, 2016.

External linksEdit

Audio / video
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