Christopher Merrill was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, raised in New Jersey, and educated at Middlebury College and the University of Washington. He has published four collections of poetry, including Brilliant Water (White Pine Press, 2001) and Watch Fire (White Pine Press, 1995), for which he received the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; more than a dozen edited volumes and books of translations; and five works of nonfiction, among them, The Grass of Another Country: A Journey Through the World of Soccer (Henry Holt, 1994), Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars (Rowman & Littlefield, 2001), and Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain (Random House, 2005). His latest prose book, The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War (Milkweed Editions, 2011), chronicles his travels in Malaysia, China and Mongolia, and the Middle East, in the wake of the War on Terror. His writings have been translated into 25 languages, his journalism appears in many publications, and his honors include a knighthood in arts and letters from the French government. As director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa since 2000, he has undertaken cultural diplomacy missions in over 30 countries, most recently to Afghanistan and Bahrain. He and his wife, violinist Lisa Gowdy-Merrill, live in Iowa City with their two daughters.