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No Sign

New poetry collection from Peter Balakian, author of Ozone Journal, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

In these poems, Peter Balakian wrestles with national and global cultural and political realities, including challenges for the human species amid planetary transmutation and the impact of mass violence on the self and culture. At the collection’s heart is “No Sign,” another in Balakian’s series of long-form poems, following “A-Train/Ziggurat/Elegy” and “Ozone Journal,” which appeared in his previous two collections. In this dialogical multi-sectioned poem, an estranged couple encounters each other, after years, on the cliffs of the New Jersey Palisades. The dialogue that ensues reveals the evolution of a kaleidoscopic memory spanning decades, reflecting on the geological history of Earth and the climate crisis, the film Hiroshima Mon Amour, the Vietnam War, a visionary encounter with the George Washington Bridge, and the enduring power of love..
Whether meditating on the sensuality of fruits and vegetables, the COVID-19 pandemic, the trauma and memory of the Armenian genocide, James Baldwin in France, or Arshile Gorky in New York City, Balakian’s layered, elliptical language, wired phrases, and shifting tempos engage both life’s harshness and beauty and define his inventive and distinctive style.

80 pages | 6 x 9

Phoenix Poets



“Balakian has been writing intellectually challenging poems of ‘bright unbearable reality’ that are part of an ongoing conversation in American poetry for some time. They have the horizontal continuum of history, like Walcott and Heaney, but they also have verticality which arrests time and connects with the demonic and divine. He masterfully does the thing nobody else does which is to derange history into poetry, to make poetry painting, to make painting culture, to make culture living, and with a historical depth that finds the right experience in language.”

Bruce Smith, author of Spill

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

History, Bitterness
Tung Lai Shun
Ode to the Douduk
Waiting for a Number
Summer Ode
Yellow Lilies
Outside Arshile Gorky’s Studio
Revenant Love
Watching the Tulips Die
Purple Irises
Shadow Grid
Grasses of Unknowing
How Much I Love You

Grape Leaves

No Sign

Stalled in Traffic
Head of Anahit/British Museum
Coming to Istanbul
Leaving the Big City
Walking the Ruined City

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