Awarded to a member of the alumni community whose selfless and caring work and deeds benefit society and humankind.
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Peter Balakian ‘73 has spent much of his career as a poet, memoirist and historian, writing about mass violence, trauma and memory, and his books on the Armenian Genocide have been groundbreaking. He has been a public intellectual and spokesman in the United States and abroad and his work has been translated into over a dozen languages.
The author of seven books of poems, Balakian won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for poetry for his most recent collection, Ozone Journal (2016, University of Chicago Press). Balakian is the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities, Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at Colgate University.
For more than four decades Balakian's poems have engaged a wide range of social, cultural and political realities including genocide, war, terrorism, climate change, the AIDS epidemic and more. His poems also probe the personal and meditative realities of love, death, art and culture, and the intersections between epic traumatic events and the private self.
Balakian's four books of prose include The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response (2004), which won the 2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book and a New York Times best seller. His memoir, Black Dog of Fate, won the 1998 PEN/Martha Albrand Prize for the Art of the Memoir and was a best book of the year for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and Publisher's Weekly, and was recently issued in a 10th-anniversary edition. He is co-translator of Girgoris Balakian's Armenian Golgotha: A Memoir of the Armenian Genocide 1915-1918 (Knopf, 2009), which was a Washington Post book of the year.
Balakian's Bucknell roots run deep. He is the son of Arax Aroosian Balakian ‘48 and brother of James Balakian ‘78 and Janet Balakian ‘83. He has a daughter, Sophia, and son, James ‘10.
Balakian is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes including the Presidential Medal and the Moves Khoranatsi Medal from the Republic of Armenia. He was recently named the 13th Janet Weis Fellow in Contemporary Letters, becoming the first Bucknell graduate to receive this honor.