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University of Iowa News Release

May 5, 2005

Merrill To Discuss Cultural Diplomacy And U.S. Relations May 11

Christopher Merrill, director of the University of Iowa International Writing Program, will speak on "The Role of Cultural Diplomacy is Winning Back Friends for the U.S." at the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council (ICFRC) luncheon at noon Wednesday, May 11 at Rockwood Fellowship Hall, Congregational Church, 30 N. Clinton St.

Merrill received the 2005 Kostas Kyriazis Award, Greece's most prestigious journalism award, for his book "Things of the Hidden God," chronicling the transformative pilgrimages he made to Greece's sacred Mount Athos in the aftermath of the Balkan wars of the 1990s. His experiences covering those wars were chronicled in the acclaimed book "Only the Nails Remain." Merrill is also the author of four collections of poetry, including "Watch Fire," for which he received the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; translations; several edited volumes; and the nonfiction books "The Grass of Another Country: A Journey Through the World of Soccer" and "The Old Bridge: The Third Balkan War and the Age of the Refugee."

The commentator on international literature for the syndicated radio program "The World," jointly produced by the BBC and station WGBH in Boston, Merrill has had work translated into 18 languages. Before coming to the UI, Merrill held the William H. Jenks Chair in Contemporary Letters at the College of the Holy Cross.

New Pioneer Catering will provide lunch for the program, which is made possible with support from Iowa State Bank & Trust Co. and New Pioneer Co-op and is sponsored by International Programs and ICFRC. For those unable to attend the program, WSUI-AM will broadcast it on Thursday, May 12 following the noon news.

Reservations for the Merrill Luncheon should be received at ICFRC, 140 International Center, Iowa City, Iowa, 52242-1802, by noon, Monday, May 9.  Reservations are $7.00 for members and $8.50 for non-members.

For more information on this program or the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council, please contact Tom Baldridge at 319-335-0351.

ICFRC is a non-profit association of community and university people interested in learning more about U.S. foreign policy, world affairs and current global issues impacting world societies. The group provides members with the opportunity to hear more than 35 experts per year who visit the UI campus and the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area.

ICFRC is part of International Programs, which consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost for academic programs and dean of International Programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,; Program: Tom Baldridge, 319-335-0351,; Writer: Kent Nguyen