Christopher Merrill is an American poet, essayist, journalist and translator. Currently, he serves as director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. He led the initiative that resulted in the selection of Iowa City as a UNESCO City of Literature, a part of the Creative Cities Network. In 2011, he was appointed to the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO.
Life and career
He was educated at Middlebury College and the University of Washington. He has published 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. He has also published translations, ... more »
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Christopher Merrill Poems
A Boy Juggling a Soccer Ball
after practice: right foot to left foot, stepping forward and back, to right foot and left foot, and left foot up to his thigh, holding
A map on which the names have been erased, A compass pivoting on a black cross, Sextants dismantled and displayed in a store Razed and rebuilt in the Jewish Quarter—this is
Poem Ending with a Line by George W. Bus...
The screening of the film on genocide, Designed to build momentum for the final Lecture at the festival of human rights, Was marred by the projectionist's refusal
Lines on the Death of Ingmar Bergman
A woman sketching, a man steeped in gin— Note how the final scene assembling In the rain shadow of a mountain range Ablaze from ridge to ridge carries no hint
On the first day the goat climbed to the top branch of the acacia tree and said, The ship sailing to the new world will sink before it leaves the harbor. He stayed there all night, counting the stars in three constellations that he had never seen before, and in the morning he cleaned himself up and said, The fishermen mending their nets will never take to the sea again.
When I wake up, I’m still asleep. And when I get dressed, my clothes are missing. And when I finish breakfast, I’m always hungry. And when I walk to school, the street is empty.
The edifice was complete—the signatures, secret teachings, and sacrificial victims locked in stone, the jewelry, linens, and banners of the vanquished hung from the parapets—when a great wind swept through the city.
The canoe had sprung a leak, and so they had to portage to the sea, along a foot path abandoned to marauders from the city. When their guide could not identify the tracks in the mud, the cry of the bird perched in the dead tree behind
Fall and Recovery
For example, the crack widening in the window of the plane flying over Greenland: crazing is the word used by the safety inspector to describe the mesh of lines spreading from the bullet-sized hole in the plastic through which shine
How the white horses gallop through the city At nightfall, when the fog rolls in from the sea And one by one the street lamps fail to light. o
The hammer falls silent, a mourning dove coos in the pigeon house by the olive grove, and in the renovated church the bells ring for vespers
O water, be the string to my guitar. The land's encircled? Follow the evening star.
There’s no sugar in the Promised Land. Swear by the olive in the God-kissed land. I heard your laughter in the jackal’s howl When the monks chanted in the Psalmist’s land.
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
(31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821)
A Boy Juggling a Soccer Ball
after practice: right foot
to left foot, stepping forward and back,
to right foot and left foot,
and left foot up to his thigh, holding
it on his thigh as he twists
around in a circle, until it rolls
down the inside of his leg,
like a tickle of sweat, not catching
and tapping on the soft
side of his foot, and juggling
once, twice, three times,
hopping on one foot like a jump-roper
in the gym, now trapping
and holding the ball in midair,
balancing it on the instep
of his weak left foot, stepping forward
and forward and back, ...