John Balaban

(1943 / Philadelphia)

John Balaban
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John B. Balaban (born December 2, 1943) is an American poet and translator, an authority on Vietnamese literature.
Balaban was born in a housing project neighborhood in Philadelphia to Romanian immigrant parents, Phillip and Alice Georgies Balaban. His father taught himself calculus, invented a model airplane, and studied engineering in Romania, while his mother was a peasant with "almost no education". Balaban wrote his first poem at the age of eight or nine, and cites the influence of show tunes that his elder sisters used to sing while washing the dishes after dinner.
He became a Quaker at the age of sixteen, while searching for alternatives to the violence in his ... more »

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Best Poem of John Balaban

Passing Through Albuquerque

At dusk, by the irrigation ditch
gurgling past backyards near the highway,
locusts raise a maze of calls in cottonwoods.

A Spanish girl in a white party dress
strolls the levee by the muddy water
where her small sister plunks in stones.

Beyond a low adobe wall and a wrecked car
men are pitching horseshoes in a dusty lot.
Someone shouts as he clangs in a ringer.

Big winds buffet in ahead of a storm,
rocking the immense trees and whipping up
clouds of dust, wild leaves, and cottonwool.

In the moment when the locusts pause and the ...

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