Christopher Merrill

Fellow: Awarded 2019

Field of Study: General Nonfiction

Competition: US & Canada


Christopher Merrill has published six collections of poetry, including Watch Fire, for which he received the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; many edited volumes and translations; and six books of nonfiction, among them, Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars, Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain, The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War, and Self-Portrait with Dogwood. His writings have been translated into nearly forty languages; his journalism appears widely; and his honors include a Chevalier from the French government in the Order of Arts and Letters. He has worked as a soccer coach, nurseryman, book reviewer, caretaker, teacher, and war correspondent. From 1995-2000 he held the William H. Jenks Chair in Contemporary Letters at the College of the Holy Cross, and for ten years he was the international book critic of Public Radio International’s daily news program, The World. He has directed the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa since 2000, in which capacity he has conducted cultural diplomacy missions to more than fifty countries. He serves on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, and in April 2012 President Obama appointed him to the National Council on the Humanities.