Imagining the Past: Atrocity, Trauma and the Armenian Genocide

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Armenians being led away by armed guards from Harpoot, where the educated and the influential of the city were selected to be massacred at the nearest suitable site, May 1915, Foto by Armin T. Wegner, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Promise Armenian Institute Distinguished Lecture Series presenting Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and author Peter Balakian.

Thursday, April 18, 2024
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM (Pacific Time)
Mong Learning Center (Engineering VI Building)
404 Westwood Plaza

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Pulitzer Prize winning poet and author Peter Balakian will discuss how he has worked through filaments of Armenian history to create an inventive body of literature. He will explore how his work has moved across generations in his writing both poetry and memoir about the Armenian Genocide. How can a past historical event be transformed by the linguistic frequencies of literary imagination in the American present? Balakian will discuss how various family figures and ancestors have provided a grounding for his work; his great-great uncle, Krikoris Balakian (Bishop in the Armenian Church), was one of the 250 cultural leaders arrested on April 25, 1915 at the onset of the Genocide, and his grandmother Nafina Aroosian, who was a Genocide survivor along with her two young daughters, endured a harrowing death march into the Syrian desert.

Peter Balakian, Pulitzer Prize winning poet and New York Times Best Selling author

Peter Balakian is the author of 8 books of poems and 4 books of prose and 3 collaborative translations and several edited books. Ozone Journal won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. His prose books include Vice and Shadow: Essays on the Lyric Imagination, Poetry, Art, and Culture; Black Dog of Fate, a memoir—winner of the 1998 PEN/Martha Albrand Prize for the Art of the Memoir (a best book of the year for the New York Times, the LA Times, and Publisher’s Weekly); The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response winner of the 2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize and a New York Times Notable Book and a New York Times Best Seller. His collaborative translation of Grigoris Balakian’s Armenian Golgotha: A Memoir of the Armenian Genocide was a Washington Post book of the year.

Balakian is the recipient of many awards and prizes and civic citations: the Pulitzer Prize, The Presidential Medal and the Movses Horanatsi Medal from the Republic of Armenia, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, The Spendlove Prize for Social Justice, Tolerance, and Diplomacy (recipients include President Carter); and The Emily Clark Balch Prize for poetry from the Virginia Quarterly Review. He has appeared widely on national television and radio, and his work has been translated into many languages and editions. He is Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities, Professor of English at Colgate University.

Peter Balakian's books are available at the NAASR Bookstore


This event will take place at the Mong Learning Center (Engineering VI Building)

Visitor parking available at UCLA Parking Structure 8.

  1. Park on the roof of Parking Structure 8
  2. Pay for parking at a Paystation
  3. Take the stairs or the elevator to Level 1/Westwood Plaza
  4. Cross the street diagonally, then turn slightly left, continuing north, past the bus stop
  5. Engineering VI will be on your right as you walk north on Westwood Plaza

Please note: This event will be photographed and recorded for documentation and distribution. All audience members agree to the possibility of appearing in these photographs and recordings by virtue of attending the event or participating in the event.


Sponsor(s): The Promise Armenian Institute, Armenian Genocide Research Program, Center for Near Eastern Studies, Comparative Literature, The Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law, Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History, Narekatsi Chair in Armenian Studies, UCLA Working Group in Memory Studies, National Association for Armenian Studies and Research NAASR, Ararat-Eskijian Museum