Peter Balakian here gathers a large and important body of work. His efforts as an essayist prefigure some of his poetry, provide background for his memoirs, and inform the theory behind his historical and scholarly writings. A quick scan out of context at the figures Balakian discusses in these pagesW. B. Yeats and Hart Crane to Adrienne Rich and Joan Didion, Dante and Primo Levi to Bob Dylan and Elia Kazan, and Theodore Roethke and Robert Rauschenberg to Arshile Gorky, and Yeghishe Charentsmight at first cause confusion. But Balakian draws them all together into a single thread: the lyric imagination. Whether it be in the visual arts or creative nonfiction, or in film or popular music, or in history writing or in poetry proper, Balakian shows how the lyric imagination shadows history and human experience, casting its own kind of dark light, often un-romantic and sobering, on some inconvenient facts of human cruelty and trauma, whether it be personal, inherited, or intellectual. Bringing these seemingly disparate artistic genres together, Balakian offers a fresh way to think about history, trauma, and memory. With Armenia and the genocide looming in the background of most everything Balakian writes, this book should be especially timely with the coming 100th anniversary in April 2015. By pulling these difficult to find essays into one place, Balakian offers readers a unique perspective on American culture, combining a poet’s vision and issues in poetics and the imagination in various media, with an Armenian public intellectual voice of a kind that we rarely hear.