NEW YORK—Author Peter Balakian won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Ozone Journal. The winners and finalists were revealed Monday at 3 p.m. during a live-streamed broadcast from Columbia University in New York. This year marked the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzers.
“In poetry, for a collection of poems that bear witness to the old losses and tragedies that lie beneath a global age of danger and uncertainty, the prize goes to Ozone Journal by Peter Balakian,” announced Mike Pride, the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes.
Balakian’s Ozone Journal (poems) was published by the University of Chicago Press. The long poem in Balakian’s new book is a sequel to his acclaimed “A-Train/Ziggurat/Elegy” (2010). While excavating the remains of Armenian Genocide survivors in the Syrian desert with a TV crew, the persona navigates his own memory of New York City in a decade (the 1980’s) of crisis—as AIDS and climate change make a context for his personal struggles and his pursuit of meaning in the face of loss and catastrophe. Whether his poems explore Native American villages of New Mexico, the slums of Nairobi, or the Armenian-Turkish borderland, Balakian’s poems continue to engage the harshness and beauty of contemporary life in a language that is layered, sensual, elliptical, and defined by wired phrases and shifting tempos. Ozone Journal creates inventive lyrical insight in a global age of danger and uncertainty.
Balakian is the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities at Colgate University. He is the author of seven books of poems and four prose works, including The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response, a New York Times best seller, and Black Dog of Fate, a memoir, winner of the PEN/Albrand Prize.
The full list of 2016 winners is below:
Public Service: Associated Press
Breaking News Reporting: Los Angeles Times staff
Investigative Reporting: The Tampa Bay Times‘ Leonora LaPeter Anton and Anthony Cormier and The Sarasota Herald-Tribune‘s Michael Braga
Explanatory Reporting: ProPublica’s T. Christian Miller and The Marshall Project’s Ken Armstrong
Local Reporting: The Tampa Bay Times‘ Michael LaForgia, Cara Fitzpatrick, and Lisa Gartner
National Reporting: The Washington Post staff
International Reporting: The New York Times’ Alyssa Rubin
Feature Writing: Kathryn Schulz of The New Yorker
Commentary: Farah Stockman of The Boston Globe
Criticism: Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker
Editorial Writing: John Hackworth of Sun Newspapers
Editorial Cartooning: Jack Ohman of The Sacramento Bee
Breaking News Photography: The New York Times and Thomson Reuters
Feature Photography: The Boston Globe‘s Jessica Rinaldi
Arts and Letters:
Fiction: Viet Thanh Nguyen for The Sympathizer
Drama: Lin-Manuel Miranda for Hamilton
History: T.J. Stiles for Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America
Biography or Autobiography: William Finnegan for Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life
Poetry: Peter Balakian for Ozone Journal
General Non-Fiction: Joby Warrick for Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS
Music: Henry Threadgill for In for a Penny, In for a Pound
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Almost no Armenian American has done one of these two things. Peter Balakian has done BOTH:
1. Win a Pulitzer
2. Walk through the 100-year-old mass graves of Deir Zor, for a segment on 60 Minutes, for more than 15 million Americans to see!!! Here it is:
Every Armenian organization should give Balakian their highest honor…tout suite.