Biography of Christopher Merrill
Christopher Merrill is an American poet, essayist, journalist and translator. Currently, he serves as director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. He led the initiative that resulted in the selection of Iowa City as a UNESCO City of Literature, a part of the Creative Cities Network. In 2011, he was appointed to the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO.
Life and career
He was educated at Middlebury College and the University of Washington. He has published four collections of poetry, including Watch Fire, for which he received the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets. He has also published translations, several edited volumes, and four books of nonfiction. His work has been translated into twenty-five languages, and his journalism appears in many publications. For ten years he was the book critic for the daily radio news program The World. He has held the William H. Jenks Chair in Contemporary Letters at the College of the Holy Cross.
Awards, fellowships, and prizes
Sherman Brown Neff Fellowship, University of Utah (1986–1987)
John Ciardi Fellow in Poetry, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference (1989)
Pushcart Prize XV in Poetry (1990)
Editors’ Award in Poetry, Columbia: A Magazine of Poetry & Prose (1990)
Ingram Merrill Foundation Award in Poetry (1991)
Readers’ Choice Award in Poetry, Prairie Schooner (1992)
The Academy of American Poets Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award (1993)
Translation Award, Slovenian Ministry of Culture (1997)
Finalist, Los Angeles Times Book Prize (for The Four Questions of Melancholy: New and Selected Poems by Tomaž Šalamun (editor)) (1997)
Writers Association of Bosnia-Herzegovina Annual Literary Award, The Bosnian Stecak (2001)
Translation Awards, Korean Literature Translation Institute (2003, 2004, 2006)
Kostas Kyriazis Foundation Honorary International Literary Prize (2005)
Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, French Ministry of Culture and Communications (2006)
Christopher Merrill's Works:
Fevers & Tides (1989)
Watch Fire. White Pine Press. 1995
Brilliant Water. White Pine Press. 2001
Seven Poets, Four Days, One Book (Trinity University Press, 2009)
The Grass of Another Country: A Journey Through the World of Soccer (1994)
The Old Bridge: The Third Balkan War and the Age of the Refugee (1995)
Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars. Rowman & Littlefield. 2001
Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain (2004)
Cultural Diplomacy: The Linchpin of Public Diplomacy, Report of the Advisory Committee on Cultural Diplomacy, U.S. Department of State (2005)
The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expediation, War (October, 2011)
Aleš Debeljak (1995). Anxious Moments. Translator Christopher Merrill. White Pine Press
Tomaž Šalamun (2007). The Four Questions of Melancholy: New and Selected Poems of Tomaž Šalamun. Translator Christopher Merrill. White Pine Press
The City and the Child, poems by Aleš Debeljak (1999)
Because of the Rain: A Selection of Korean Zen Poems (2006)
Even Birds Leave the World: Selected Poems of Ji-woo Hwang (2006)
Scale and Stairs: Selected Poems of Heeduk Ra (2009)
Translucency: Selected Poems of Chankyung Sung, translated from the Korean with Won-Chung Kim. (2010)
Collections and anthologies
John McPhee (1988). Christopher Merrill. ed. Outcroppings. Peregrine Smith Books
Christopher Merrill, ed. (1991). The Forgotten Language: Contemporary Poets and Nature. Peregrine Smith Books
What Will Suffice: Contemporary American Poets on the Art of Poetry From the Faraway Nearby: Georgia O’Keeffe as Icon (editor) (1995)
The Way to the Salt Marsh: A John Hay Reader (editor) (1998)
John Turnbull, Alon Raab, Thom Satterlee, ed. (2008). "A Boy Juggling a Soccer Ball". The Global Game: Writers on Soccer. University of Nebraska Press
William J. Walsh, ed. (2006). "Suite for Ashes and Strings". Under the rock umbrella: contemporary American poets, 1951-1977. Mercer University Press
Christopher Merrill: Sajak sajak (Poems), translated into Malay (2006)
Why the Grass Whispered Again: Selected Poems, translated into Arabic (2007)
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Christopher Merrill Poems
A Boy Juggling A Soccer Ball
after practice: right foot to left foot, stepping forward and back, to right foot and left foot, and left foot up to his thigh, holding
A map on which the names have been erased, A compass pivoting on a black cross, Sextants dismantled and displayed in a store Razed and rebuilt in the Jewish Quarter—this is
Poem Ending With A Line By George W. Bus...
The screening of the film on genocide, Designed to build momentum for the final Lecture at the festival of human rights, Was marred by the projectionist's refusal
Lines On The Death Of Ingmar Bergman
A woman sketching, a man steeped in gin— Note how the final scene assembling In the rain shadow of a mountain range Ablaze from ridge to ridge carries no hint
On the first day the goat climbed to the top branch of the acacia tree and said, The ship sailing to the new world will sink before it leaves the harbor. He stayed there all night, counting the stars in three constellations that he had never seen before, and in the morning he cleaned himself up and said, The fishermen mending their nets will never take to the sea again.
The edifice was complete—the signatures, secret teachings, and sacrificial victims locked in stone, the jewelry, linens, and banners of the vanquished hung from the parapets—when a great wind swept through the city.
When I wake up, I’m still asleep. And when I get dressed, my clothes are missing. And when I finish breakfast, I’m always hungry. And when I walk to school, the street is empty.
The canoe had sprung a leak, and so they had to portage to the sea, along a foot path abandoned to marauders from the city. When their guide could not identify the tracks in the mud, the cry of the bird perched in the dead tree behind
Fall And Recovery
For example, the crack widening in the window of the plane flying over Greenland: crazing is the word used by the safety inspector to describe the mesh of lines spreading from the bullet-sized hole in the plastic through which shine
How the white horses gallop through the city At nightfall, when the fog rolls in from the sea And one by one the street lamps fail to light. o
The hammer falls silent, a mourning dove coos in the pigeon house by the olive grove, and in the renovated church the bells ring for vespers
O water, be the string to my guitar. The land's encircled? Follow the evening star.
There’s no sugar in the Promised Land. Swear by the olive in the God-kissed land. I heard your laughter in the jackal’s howl When the monks chanted in the Psalmist’s land.
for Agha Shahid Ali (1949-2001)
There’s no sugar in the Promised Land.
Swear by the olive in the God-kissed land.