Peter Balakian Reads From New Poetry Book at 9/11 Memorial Preview Site

Noted author and poet Peter Balakian presented his new book of poetry Ziggurat – a New York-based collection of poems set in the mid 1960s to 2006 – at the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site in New York on Wednesday evening, October 13.

Discussing his newest collection of poems and the tragedy of 9/11, Balakian referred to the towers as monuments and anchors and as “mental spaces, as spaces of memory and as spaces of self-exploration.”

He said that poems have a function and embody memory in the aftermath of catastrophe. The poems in Ziggurat are based around the notion that “poems serve as a recorder and capture an event in a myriad of angles such as speech, tongue and syntax.”

Balakian noted a connection between his work on the Armenian Genocide and 9/11, as he had spent decades thinking of survivor experience, trauma and inter-generational memory. He has written widely about the Armenian Genocide, including the New York Times best sellers The Burning Tigris and Black Dog of Fate.

During his talk he read a selection of poems from Ziggurat. The book takes its name from an Aramaic word used by the Sumerians to describe the great skyscraper built four millennia ago, which was excavated in the late 1920s by British archeologist Sir Leonard Woolley.

Following his reading, a question and answer session and book signing took place.

This talk was a part of the 9/11, Today and Tomorrow conversation series hosted by the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

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