Christopher Merrill

Photograph by Ram Devineni

About

Christopher Merrill has published four collections of poetry, including Brilliant Water, and Watch Fire, for which he received the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; translations of Aleš Debeljak’s Anxious Moments and The City and the Child; several edited volumes, among them, The Forgotten Language: Contemporary Poets and Nature and From the Faraway Nearby: Georgia O’Keeffe as Icon; and five books of nonfiction, The Grass of Another Country: A Journey Through the World of Soccer, The Old Bridge: The Third Balkan War and the Age of the Refugee, Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars, Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain, and The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War.

His work has been translated into twenty-five languages, his journalism appears in many publications, and his awards include a knighthood in arts and letters from the French government. He has held the William H. Jenks Chair in Contemporary Letters at the College of the Holy Cross, and now directs the International Writing Program at The University of Iowa. He serves on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, he has conducted cultural diplomacy missions in over thirty countries for the U.S. State Department, and in April 2012 President Obama appointed Merrill to the National Council on the Humanities.

Selected Works

Poetry
“Christopher Merrill is one of the most gifted, audacious, and accomplished poets of an extraordinary rich generation. His range of sympathy, subject, and tone has always been prodigious. His grasp of form is sure and in service of clear attention. This collection shows a complex talent developing and extending its original high promise.” —W S Merwin
Poet Christopher Merrill hatched a plan: invite six other poets to join him in four days of writing in Iowa City.
Brilliant Water is written with love, speed and passion. It shines. Makes you fly.”
--Tomaz Salamun
Watch Fire” is a remarkably original, ambitious, and unified volume of poetry.”
--Los Angeles Times Book Review
Non-Fiction

"Christopher Merrill is on an ardent lifelong quest and luckily he is taking us along. His three journeys in The Tree of the Doves are deep, wandering investigations where the old world meets the new, where the person becomes politic, and where peace many times has just left the room..."

--Ron Carlson

"A gem that shows off Merrill-the-poet's gorgeous writing, and Merrill-the-reporter's sharp eye—and introduces a new Merrill, the pilgrim."
--The Spectator
“[T]his book might very well become a modern classic about what once again seems a painful and incomprehensible corner of Europe.”
--Publishers Weekly
Poetry in Translation
The poems of Heeduck Ra are charged with a friction between image and idea, sound and sense. She glimpses an arc, which may light a path from the visible world to the invisible. Her work occupies the ever-shifting border region between what we know and what we do not know, a zone in which to apprehend the world anew.
Buddhism was introduced to Korea via China in the fifth century and similar to China and Japan a long tradition of Zen poetry developed. This collection spans 1,500 years of this tradition with a selection of the key poets and teachers starting with Great Master Wonhyo the founder of Korean Zen Buddhism.