Poet and Nonfiction Writer Christopher Merrill to Give Talk on Vocation of the Writer

Christopher Merrill, author and former William H. Jenks Chair in American Letters at the College of the Holy Cross, will give a talk as part of the Working Writers Series on Thursday, Oct. 4 at 7:30 p.m. in the College’s Rehm Library. The event, which is sponsored by both the Creative Writing Program and the McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics, and Culture, is free and open to the public.

Merill is the author of four collections of poetry and five books of nonfiction, including “Watch Fire” (White Pine Press, 1995), “Only the Nails Remain: Scenes form the Balkan Wars” (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2001), “Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain” (Random House, 2005), and, most recently, “The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War” (Milkweed Editions, 2011).

“The Tree  of the Doves,” which chronicles Merrill’s travels in Malaysia, China, Mongolia and the Middle East in the wake of terror, has been described as “A unique travelogue boosted by wonderfully creative thinking with a political slant” by Kirkus Reviews, while “Only the Nails Remain” has been hailed as “a modern classic” by Publishers Weekly.

Merrill, who currently directs the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, is a member of the U.S. national Commission for UNESCO, and has received a knighthood in arts and letters from the French government. Celebrated widely, his writings have been translated into 25 languages.

Merrill lives in Iowa City with his wife and two daughters. Appointed to the National Council on Humanities by President Obama in April 2012, Merrill’s talk at Holy Cross will consider the vocation of the writer, as well as the importance of craft in one’s life.