June-tree: New and Selected Poems, 1974-2000

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9780060198411: June-tree: New and Selected Poems, 1974-2000

For three decades, Peter Balakian's poetry has beenpraised widely in the United States and abroad. Writing in the Boston Globe, Marcie Hershman called Sad Days of Light "a piercingly elegant volume," and John Naughton in World Literature Today praised Dyer's Thistle as "a remarkable and profoundly visionary work." Now the poet whom James Dickey called "an extraordinary talent" gives us June-tree: New and Selected Poems 1974-2000, a discriminating selection from his first four books, with a group of startling new poems.

In book after book, Balakian has created a unique voice in American poetry -- one that is both personal and cosmopolitan. In sensuous, elliptical language, Balakian offers a textured poetry that is beautiful and haunting as it envelops an American grain, the reverberations of the Armenian Genocide, and the wired, discordant realities of contemporary life.

In his explorations of history, Balakian often deals with the transmission of trauma across generations in ways that bring daily American life into play with the dark frequencies of the past. The evolution of Balakian's form from volume to volume encompasses an expansive imagination, one always able to engage reality in its starkness, difficulty, and moments of revelation. June-tree is a stunning body of work by an original poet.

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About the Author:

Peter Balakian is the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities in the department of English at Colgate University. He is the author of four previous books of poems and the memoir Black Dog of Fate, which won the 1998 PEN/Martha Albrand Prize for memoir. He is the recipient of various awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Anahit Literary Prize. He lives in Hamilton, New York, with his wife and two children.

From Publishers Weekly:

It should come as no surprise that Balakian best known for his 1997 memoir, Black Dog of Fate, which juxtaposed memories of a 1950's Jersey childhood with the Armenian genocide of 1915 has also born witness to the Armenian genocide in his poetry. Some of his best poems on the subject ("The History of Armenia"; "The Claim") appeared early on in his poetic career, and their reappearance after Black Dog should win them new readers. There are plenty of poems about Balakian's other obsession his New Jersey youth as well as poems about fishing, painters, flowers and families, all of which were well-documented in his four previous poetry collections. The new poems, which kick off this selection, map out familiar terrain, even as the poet acknowledges that he sees "no light.// Just yourself/ staring back at you/ in middle age,// as if the novocaine/ of the sea urchin/ froze your lids." Numbed by "baby-boom melodrama," Balakian's speaker sees himself as an itinerant academic "on sabbatical and looking for/ a place to write." Balakian rises above such poetic haze when writing about events like Woodstock ("And when the Shaman spread his yellow robe like the sun/ he was all teeth and amp"), but more often than not, middle-class boomer angst seems to have run off with the muse, and prosaic sentiment stands in for lyric urgency. (Mar.)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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