A Review of Ozone Journal By Peter Balakian

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Title: Ozone Journal

Author: Peter Balakian

Genre: Poetry, Fiction

Length: 92 pages

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

 

Ozone Journal is unlike the majority of poetry I have read in my entire life. Balakian’s style is lyrical and linguistic, drawing attention to social issues that remain prevalent in our lives: AIDS, genocide, cultural breakdown, and memories, woven intrinsically.

History is told through his words and you get a sense that you are one of many, gathered around an orator by the fire, hearing of worlds you never knew about before. Balakian certainly used words I didn’t understand but it made me want to know more about where he’d been: New Mexico, New York, Detroit, Allepo. These seemingly far geographical locations shared a history and Balakian expressed the shared grief, pride, and resilience of these civilizations, regardless of distance.

Poetry can be difficult to understand because it’s often subjective and you must remove yourself, willing to see through another’s eyes, to feel the undercurrent; to hear what isn’t being said aloud. I struggled with Ozone Journal because of my ignorance. I know very little of the places he spoke of and of their struggles but as I read, I found myself feeling quite lucky and grateful for the life I have.

Ozone Journal is painful. It’s beautiful, it’s blunt, and it is human – almost unbearably. That being said, I’d read it again and again because it exposes what I don’t see and what I haven’t felt and what I don’t know.

I rated this ♥♥♥ out of five because it was, truly, an arduous read. Though I thoroughly enjoyed it, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who doesn’t love poetry.

Or honesty, for that matter.

My favorite lines:

Here and Now (61)

What questions can I ask you? How will the sky answer the wind? The dawn isn’t heartbreaking. The world isn’t full of love.

Name and Place (3)

If you ask what color is the sky,

can anyone say – cloudless, clotted, open?

Pueblo I, New Mexico (10)

The horizen was turquoise, fractured blue, copper dust.

 

Find out more about Ozone Journal:

http://www.pulitzer.org/winners/peter-balakian

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