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University of Iowa News Release


Aug. 22, 2007

Merrill To Present 'A Levantine Journey' At Aug. 30 Luncheon

Christopher Merrill, director of the University of Iowa International Writing Program (IWP), will present "A Levantine Journey" at a noon luncheon of the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council (ICFRC) Thursday, Aug. 30, in Rockwood Fellowship Hall, Congregational Church, 30 N. Clinton St. in Iowa City.

Merrill will discuss his journey from Aleppo, Syria, to Tripoli, Lebanon, during May, when he had the chance to observe some of the fallout from the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. He will also read from a new book about his travels, "The Tree of the Doves: Three Essays," and offer some impressions of this complicated region of the world. Levant is a historic geographic term, which refers to a region in the Middle East, including Syria to Jordan, Israel and the West Bank, Greece, Turkey, and Lebanon, Merrill said.

Merrill has published four collections of poetry, including "Brilliant Water" and "Watch Fire," for which he received the Peter I.B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; translations of Ale Debeljak's "Anxious Moments" and "The City and the Child." He has also published several edited volumes, including, "The Forgotten Language: Contemporary Poets and Nature" and "From the Faraway Nearby: Georgia O'Keeffe as Icon," and four books of nonfiction, "The Grass of Another Country: A Journey Through the World of Soccer," "The Old Bridge: The Third Balkan War and the Age of the Refugee," "Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars," and "Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain."

His work has been translated into 25 languages, his journalism appears in many publications and he is the book critic for the daily radio news program, "The World." He has held the William H. Jenks Chair in Contemporary Letters at the College of the Holy Cross, in Worcester, Mass., and now directs the IWP.

This program is presented with support from Iowa State Bank and Trust Co. and McDonald Optical Dispensary Ltd. Oasis will cater the event. For those unable to attend, WSUI-AM 910 will carry the program at 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 2, on Iowa Public Radio.

Reservations are $7.50 for ICFRC members and $8.50 for non-members. The deadline to register is noon Tuesday, Aug. 28.

For more information or special accommodations to attend this lecture, contact Thomas Baldridge at 319-384-2260 or Marianne Weiss at 319-335-0351.

ICFRC is a nonprofit 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 affiliated with UI International Programs, which enables University of Iowa students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity, and give all university constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information, visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the Office of the Provost.

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

CONTACTS: Media: Kelli Andresen, 319-335-2026,; Program: Marianne Weiss, 319-335-0351,