Latest News Peter Balakian receives prestigious social justice prize

The Alice and Clifford Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy and Tolerance

Colgate professor Peter Balakianhas been named the 2012 recipient of the Alice and Clifford Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy and Tolerance.

The annual prize honors an individual who exemplifies the delivery of social justice, diplomacy and tolerance in his or her work. Past recipients include former President Jimmy Carter.

“Peter Balakian has been called ‘the American conscience of the Armenian Genocide,’” said Sherrie Spendlove, who founded the prize. “Our world history is incomplete without the full story of the Armenian Genocide being inscribed therein for all to see. Genocide in any part of the world in any epoch is an affront to humanity everywhere, in every time.”

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

He is the recipient of many awards and prizes and civic citations, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and the Emily Clark Balch Prize for poetry from the Virginia Quarterly Review. He has appeared widely on national television and radio programs including 60 Minutes, ABC World News Tonight, Charlie Rose, and Fresh Air.

Read more about the Spendlove prize here.

Featured Interviews

September 7 (Monday) : PBS News Hour, poem of the week

September 11 (Saturday): Interview with Scott Simon, Weekend Edition

February 28, 2010: Peter Balakian on 60 Minutes Battle Over History
Watch Video

The Armenians call it their holocaust - the 1915 forced deportation and massacre of more than a million Armenians by the Turks. But the Turks and our own government have refused to call it genocide.


New Book "Ziggurat"  
Ziggurat (Poems)
The University of Chicago Press
Publish Date September 2010

“Peter Balakian’s new book Ziggurat ingests calamity and dissolves it into an exhilarating rhythm and image, pushing the language until it feels like it’s breaking into something new. This is how idioms change, advance. The harrowing long poem ‘A-Train / Ziggurat / Elegy’ jostles a range of perspectives and narratives. It is a panorama of contemporary witness, but a syncopation of the same. Balakian renders scenes and at the same time enacts the sensibility being breached and affected—9 / 11 is just short-hand for our new magnitudes of violence and dissociation. The frames of contemporary life, and our recent history, fit together because they have been brought to account in the self of the poet. The work aims to reveal the human capacity to integrate and, after hard passage, transcend.”

Sven Birkerts

“With characteristic originality, Balakian finds his echoing motif in the construction of the first great skyscraper, the Ziggurat at Ur, and this gives his epic poem, ‘A-Train / Ziggurat / Elegy,’ a historical depth I have found nowhere else in American poetry in recent years. What Balakian has achieved here is a brilliant assimilation of the historical, philosophical, political, and psychological.”

Carolyn Forché