Poet, translator, and journalist Christopher Merrill was born in Northampton, Massachusetts and raised in New Jersey. He earned degrees from Middlebury College and the University of Washington. Merrill is the author of the poetry collections Watch Fire (1995), which won the I.B. Lavan Younger Poets Award, Brilliant Water (2001), Boat (2013), and Necessities (2013). He has translated the work of Aleš Debeljak in the collections Anxious Moments (1995) and The City and the Child (1999); Merrill has also translated or co-translated poets including Ji-woo Hwang, Heeduk Ra, and Chankyung Sung.
Merrill’s nonfiction prose includes accounts of his time in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain (2005) and The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War (2011). He has also published two books on the Balkan Wars, The Old Bridge: The Third Balkan War and the Age of the Refugee (1995) and Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars (2001). Merrill’s journalism has appeared widely and his writing has been translated into over 25 languages.
Merrill’s honors include a knighthood in arts and letters from the French government. He is the former William H. Jenks Chair in Contemporary Letters at the College of the Holy Cross. In 2000, Merrill became the director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. He has since traveled to over 30 countries for purposes of cultural diplomacy. Merrill is a member of both the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO and the National Council on the Humanities. He lives in Iowa City.