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:


Workbook (1988)
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

Translated Eorks

Christopher Merrill: Sajak sajak (Poems), translated into Malay (2006)
Why the Grass Whispered Again: Selected Poems, translated into Arabic (2007)

Poems by Christopher Merrill

Poet of the day

Ethel Turner was an Australian novelist and children's writer.


Ethel Turner was born in Doncaster, Yorkshire, England on 24th January, 1872. She migrated to Australia with her widowed mother, older sister Lilian and step sister, Jeannie in 1880.

Educated at Sydney Girls’ High School, she and Lilian wrote stories...

Poem of the day

Dugdraaben blinker paa Rosengreen;
Den tindrer, den zittrer af Glæde:
I mindste Dugperle, klar og reen,
Er Verdenssolen tilstede.

Sjæle er Draaber paa Livets Green;
De tindre, de zittre af Glæde:
I Sjælens Dugperle, klar og reen,
Er Verdensaanden tilstede.

Dugdraaben blinker et Øjeblik;