by Peter Balakian
In Dyer’s Thistle, Peter Balakian writes a severe and sensual poetry that unfolds discoveries of myth and history. He creates a landscape in which the private self is often inundated by messages of global suffering and must confront an American spiritual predicament. Inventing a language of condensation and leaps, Balakian probes a contemporary notion of the sublime as it oscillates between terror and beauty. In poems like “The Oriental Rug” and “American Dreaming,” he finds the threads back to the ancient culture of Armenia, and to the tragedy of the century’s first genocide, committed by the Turkish government against its Armenian population. Exile and immigration are as much a part of his music as are rock’n’roll, the Vietnam War, and the dark ironies of growing up in the suburbs of the fifties and sixties.