Christopher Merrill


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; his honors include a Chevalier from the French government in the Order of Arts and Letters. As director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, Merrill 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. He lives in Iowa.

Hearthward was the adverb that should have modified everything I said and did from the first days of our marriage.

Toward, or in the direction of, the hearth, as in: What can I do to help?

From early on my moral compass was set heavenward, for I was drawn to the writings and example of the Desert Fathers, who fled the city to live in caves beyond the Nile River.

Devoting their lives to the praise of God, becoming wise in the ways of the Holy Spirit.

Why did I ignore the central precept of their faith until it was too late?


Some of my favorite people on earth are in this book,
Dear writers and grand spirits.

Annie Dillard