With the intent to inform others about the permanent scars left from the early 20th Century Armenian genocide, award-winning author Peter Balakian spoke at Rackham Amphitheater on Friday night to promote his recent poetry book.

Historical accounts of the Armenian struggle and his childhood experiences attributed to Balakian”s inspiration to write five poetry books, including his most recent one, June-tree, in addition to his most celebrated memoir, Black Dog of Fate.

Growing up with the double identity of the grandson of an Armenian genocide survivor and an American child consumed with American culture, Balakian became intrigued with his background, while gaining an urge to understand the truth behind the Armenian struggle.

“I came to believe and understand that I had grown up in a family with a secret,” he said.

Balakian was slowly educated about the hardships and danger that his grandmother endured when everyone in her life was murdered except for two daughters.

“She would pop spontaneously into her imagination and tell stories. I was often her audience and stuck in her folktales and dreams. They stayed with me,” Balakian said.

He portrayed the severity of this under-recognized genocide by comparing this act of cruelty to that of the Holocaust. Balakian spoke of how the Turkish government continues to deny the existence of the Armenian genocide, contradictory to photographic proof.

“The denial of genocide only encourages more genocide,” he said.

Balakian”s literature beckons to a wide audience of Armenian-Americans.

“I am a second generation Armenian-American, I read his book and very much enjoyed it,” LSA freshman Shant Korkigian said.

Balakian incorporated the reading of an original poem, a brief video-clip of artifacts from the genocide and excerpts from his memoir within the hour-long lecture.

Balakian”s audience was predominantly Armenian-Americans, but other nationalities were represented.

“This subject is very interesting, because people know so little about it,” Director of Armenian Studies Program Kevork Bardakjian said.

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