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Ozone journal - Peter Balakian

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Title
Ozone journal
Author
Peter Balakian
format
Paperback / softback
Publisher
The University of Chicago Press
Language
English
UK Publication Date
20150320

from "Ozone Journal"

Bach's 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 river's 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 others-the dissolution of his marriage, his life as a young single parent in Manhattan in the nineties, visits and conversations with a cousin dying of AIDS-creating 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.

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Peter Balakian is the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor in Humanities and professor of English at Colgate University. He is author of seven books of poems and the winner of the 2016 Pulitizer Prize for the latest of those, Ozone Journal. 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 from the University of Chicago Press.

Type
BOOK
Country of Publication
Illinois
Number of Pages
82

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