By Aram Arkun
HAMILTON, N.Y. — Poet, memoirist and academic Peter Balakian has been in constant motion over the last few years, and particularly in 2015. He has crisscrossed the globe, engaging with Armenian communities in disparate places like Sydney, Buenos Aires, Aleppo, and Diyarbakir. He has published two new books this year in different genres: Ozone Journal, a volume of poetry, and Vise and Shadow: Essays on the Lyric Imagination, Poetry, Art and Culture. He recently reflected on what this all meant personally, as well as the broader significance of the Genocide centennial commemorations.
“I think that it is fair to say that the world coverage of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide was singular and perhaps even beyond our expectations. That the New York Times would cover the Armenian Genocide with three days of two-page spreads with full color images and focus on the ethical problems of Turkish denialism really does represent a decisive move forward” in the history of the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide, Balakian said. He found this emblematic of the general world response, with coverage of declarations by Pope Francis, the pop culture Kardashian sisters, and various world governments amplifying the “adamant outcry about the degree of injustice that still exists in the aftermath of this large human rights crime.”
“I think that the issues are more bare and open than they have ever been,” he continued. “There is an opportunity for the Armenian community to pursue the impunity problem with Turkey, in perhaps new ways that are more creative and have more world support than before.