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Release: April 13, 2001

International Writing Program's Merrill will read April 26

Christopher Merrill, director of the University of Iowa International Writing Program, will read from his work at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 26 at the Prairie Lights Bookstore in downtown Iowa City. The reading -- which is part of the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on UI radio station WSUI, 910 AM -- is free and open to the public.

Merrill will read from "Only the Nails Remain," his prose account of the Balkan Wars, and "Brilliant Water," his new collection of poems.

Merrill was honored as the 2001 recipient of the Annual Literary Award of the Writers Association of Bosnia-Herzegovina. He traveled to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo several times during the three-and-a-half-year siege of the city, researching "Only the Nails Remain."

A starred review in Publisher’s Weekly stated, "this book might very well become a modern classic about what once again seems a painful and incomprehensible corner of Europe." National Book Award winner and UI Writers’ Workshop graduate Bob Shacochis wrote, "There’s no finer, more eloquent book written about the Balkans -- its literature and cultures, its blood-soaked history and deluded politics, and certainly its fascinating people -- than Christopher Merrill’s ‘Only The Nails Remain.’"

Merrill said of "Brilliant Water," his fourth book of poetry, "I hope it is an amplification and an extension of what I’ve done in my previous books."

Merrill received the Peter I.B. Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets for his collection "Watch Fire." He also has translated four books and completed three volumes of
non-fiction. He said his experiences in the Balkans, which led to the book, also inspired his poetry. Throughout his career Merrill has split time between the writing of prose and the writing of poetry.

"I was always writing prose from the very beginning," Merrill said. "Ideally they feed each other."

Merrill is in his first year as director of the IWP. He formerly taught at Holy Cross, where he created an international reading series and an annual Literary Octoberfest. He also founded and became director of the Santa Fe Literary Center in New Mexico, and he served as director of both the Santa Fe Writers’ Conference and the Taos Conference on Writing and the Natural World.

Merrill’s poetry, fiction, essays, articles and translations have appeared in numerous books, magazines and literary journals.

For more information on this reading, call the Prairie Lights bookstore at (319) 337-2681. For UI arts information, visit this new address -- -- on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <>.