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Acclaimed poet, essayist and author Peter Balakian will give a poetry reading at Kean University on Thursday, November 17 at 10 a.m. at the North Avenue Academic Building on Kean’s Union campus. Balakian is the 2016 winner of the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for Ozone Journal and The New York Times best-selling author of The Burning Tigris, which explores the American response to the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923. At the free, public event entitled, Peter Balakian and the Poetry of Witness, the author also will sign copies of Ozone Journal.

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“Peter Balakian’s poetry touches on so many subjects that vitally need to be spoken—human rights, genocide, environmental and social sustainability, and the struggles of the individual with disease, death and both personal and social conflict,” said Jeffrey Beck, Ph.D., dean of Kean’s Nathan Weiss Graduate College. “He is one of America’s greatest practitioners of ‘the poetics of witness,’ and it is exciting to share his perspective with the Kean University community and all those interested in poetry.”

Balakian will give a 45-minute poetry reading, sharing works from Ozone Journal. After the reading, he will participate in an interview with Kean students and faculty, and take questions from the audience. The event will wrap up with a book signing.

“We are pleased to have Peter Balakian on campus to share his insights with our students and the community at large,” said Suzanne Bousquet, Ph.D., dean of Kean’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “He is accomplished as a writer in many genres and we can learn much from his processes, experiences and accomplishments.”

In awarding him the 2016 Pulitzer Prize, judges noted Balakian’s “poems that bear witness to the old losses and tragedies that undergird a global age of danger and disaster.” Balakian has said he hopes the award encourages more Americans to read poetry as a literary path to self-discovery and knowledge.

“It’s great to have Peter back at Kean. He was inspiring as part of a genocide prevention panel we sponsored in 2013,” said Dennis Klein, Ph.D., director of Kean University’s Master of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies program. “We are looking forward to welcoming him again, along with his provocative new work on the reverberations of the past and the elusiveness of home.”

Educators are encouraged to bring their students to this free public event. For more information or to reserve a space for your group, contact Dr. Beck at

A New Jersey native, Balakian was born in Teaneck and grew up there and in Tenafly. His poetry collections include Ozone Journal (2015), Ziggurat (2010), June-tree: New and Selected P

oems 1974-2000, Father Fisheye (1979), Sad Days of Light (1983), Reply From Wilderness Island (1988), Dyer’s Thistle (1996), and several fine limited editions. His memoir, Black Dog of Fate, is the winner of the PEN/Albrand Prize for memoir and a New York Times Notable Book Award. The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response, is the winner of the 2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize and is a New York Times Notable Book and New York Times and national best seller. His essays on poetry, culture, art, and social thought have appeared in many publications including Art In America, American Poetry Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The American Quarterly, American Book Review, and Poetry.