Live from Prairie Lights | Christopher Merrill & Christopher Bolin

February 27, 2024 - 7:00pm
Prairie Lights Books

Poets Christopher Merrill and Christopher Bolin will read from their new books of poetry. Christopher Merrill will read from On the Road to Lviv. Prismatic and polysemous, On the Road to Lviv invites us on an odyssey across Ukraine in the hour of war. "This chronicle/ Took shape the day the war began, which was/ My 65th birthday," writes legendary traveler, war correspondent, memoirist and poet Christopher Merrill. At once deeply personal yet rooted in history so recent you can almost see the smoke billowing from the ruins of Mariupol, the poem is equal parts chronicle, a document of war crimes, and a sober self-reflection in which the poem's speaker examines his own engagement with Ukraine as a "democratic-minded" Westerner "determined to develop/ Civil societies around the world." Not since Byron's Mazeppa has there been an English-language poem comparably engaged with Ukrainian history, appearing here en face with Nina Murray's masterly translation into Ukrainian. 

Christopher Merrill has published seven collections of poetry, including Watch Fire, for which he received the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; many edited volumes and translations; and six books of nonfiction, among them, Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars, Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain, The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War, and Self- Portrait with Dogwood. His writings have been translated into nearly 40 languages; his journalism appears widely; his honors include a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres from the French government, numerous translation awards, and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial and Ingram Merrill Foundations. As director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa since 2000, Merrill has conducted cultural diplomacy missions to more than 50 countries, and he served as a Senior Fulbright Specialist in Poland and Russia. He also served on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO from 2011-2018, and in April 2012 President Barack Obama appointed him to the National Council on the Humanities.

Writers' Workshop Alum Christopher Bolin will read from Anthem Speed, published by Kuhl House Poets, University of Iowa Press. Anthem Speed affirms Christopher Bolin's emergence as a singular stylist in 21st century American poetry. This collection evokes the vividly mysterious remnants of a lost civilization. Its preoccupations are unnervingly familiar: war, injustice, brutalization of land, air, water, and species, technologies of terror and dehumanization. Simultaneously antique and space-age, Bolin tests the acoustics of operating rooms, battlefields, courtrooms, and mountainsides, and envisions—with animal acuity—a world imperiled and empowered by its leaders and myths. "What won't a 'saint with a shovel' unearth in these exquisite, disquieting, soul-trawling poems that variously mine, measure, tally, sample, body-scan, and heat-capture our bereaved universe? Anthem Speed drops us here in the ruins midsong, in wonder and sorrow, dappled 'in forensic light,' holding on to Bolin's dire music for dear life."--Robyn Schiff

Christopher Bolin’s previous collections include Ascension Theory (University of Iowa Press, 2013) and Form from Form (Iowa, 2018). Bolin teaches at the College of St. Benedict / St. John’s University, and lives in St. Joseph, Minnesota.

To subscribe to a weekly emailing list of Writers' Workshop events, please fill in the linked form or email iww@uiowa.edu with “Events Mailing List Subscribe” in the subject line.