CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: March 8, 2001
Merrill, head of UI International Writing Program,
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Christopher Merrill, director of
the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, has been selected
as the 2001 recipient of the Annual Literary Award of the Writers Association
of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The award will be presented during International Sarajevo
Poetry Days 2001, which will take place in September.
In a letter to Merrill, Zlatko Topcic, secretary-general
of the writers association, wrote: "The award is not only a sign of gratitude
for your visit to our association during the siege of Sarajevo, or just a
recognition to your contribution of spreading the truth about what was happening
here in the hardest years for our country, but it is above all a praise to
your poetry which we had a chance to read in our literary supplement Slovo
(Oslobodjenje Daily) and literary magazine Lica."
Merrill traveled to the Bosnian capital several times
during the three-and-a-half-year siege of the city. His experiences in the
former Yugoslavia were chronicled in "Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from
the Balkan Wars," which has received extensive critical praise.
A starred review in Publishers 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, "Theres
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 Merrills Only the Nails
Merrill says, "What I experienced in Sarajevo
was just a fraction of what the citizens endured during the longest siege
in modern history. Most writers felt, and still feel, the utter inadequacy
of their words. But I was grateful for the opportunity to write about this
war waged against civilians in full view of the entire world.
"If you survive being a witness to history, you
walk away with a sense of how lucky you are. Still its a little strange
to receive an award for writing that did so little to change what was happening."
Merrills poetry, fiction, essays, articles and
translations have appeared in many books, magazines and literary journals,
ranging from the anthologies "Poems for a Small Planet" and "The
Pushcart Prize XV: The Best of the Small Presses" to periodicals including
the Antioch Review, the Paris Review, the American Poetry Review, the Fiction
Review and Sports Illustrated.
He has also had articles, reviews and commentaries
in the Albuquerque Journal, Houston Chronicle, Los Angeles Times Book Review,
Orion Magazine, Quarterly West, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, San Francisco Chronicle, Santa Fe New Mexican
and National Public Radios "All Things Considered."
He recently became a regular commentator on international
literature for Public Radio International, airing on 120 stations, including
every major radio market in the United States
Founded in 1967, the IWP was the first international
writers residency at a university, and it remains unique in world literature.
The IWP brings established writers of the world to the UI, where they become
part of the lively literary community on campus. Over the years writers from
115 countries have completed residencies in the program. Merrill became director
of the program and joined the UI faculty in the English department last fall.
For UI arts information, visit this new address --
www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa -- on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by
e-mail, contact <email@example.com>. To learn more about Merrills
radio commentaries, visit <http://www.theworld.org/books.htm> on the
World Wide Web. The site includes links to download features from recent broadcasts.