Essay Excerpt

Alan Semerdjian’s comments on Pilibosian's work

Although certain facets of Pilibosian's work differ from Marianne Moore's in terms of aesthetic sensibility, the collection and much of Pilibosian's work is very much concerned with helping us endure the complexities that inevitably come with exploration of identity and history, place and time.

Moore is a good starting place for entering Pilibosian's work. Their writings share the same natural kind of prosaic structure, attention to sibilance and syntax, and transformative quality. The first time I read her work, Pilibosian was, for me, Marianne Moore with a genocidal past. While the inventive feminist of early 20th-century modernism mined catalogs of exotic animals with scholarly precision, Pilibosian is interested in how digging the mountain of the past can help shape the present.

Pilibosian belongs to that unique category of "in between" Armenians, a generation that, as a result of being children of Diaspora parents, is neither entirely American nor entirely Armenian. On the one hand we have survivor stories. On the other we have the grandchildren of genocide survivors, who often are too young and too far away from the trauma to feel its effects. Pilibosian falls in the middle of these two fields, and the tensions that accompany this specific territory become the material for her poetry.

Pilibosian, now at a different point in her life, places herself as a successor of modernist ideals and attentiveness to image.