Saturday, February 03, 2007

Christopher Merrill

We had a visit from Professor Christopher Merrill on Friday.

Chris Merrill runs America's coolest writing programme, the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. He writes poetry and non-fiction, and he's written on soccer, the Balkan wars, and secretive Eastern orthodox monasteries.

On Friday, he spoke about his life as a writer, including how it felt to be stuck in a basement in Croatia being blitzed by the Serbs, and what to do if you're targeted by a sniper while on the way to a film festival. He also told us that according to the Serbs, the only unbiased journalists in the country were Indians(!) He reminisced about his friend Agha Shahid Ali, the Kashmiri poet who (among other things) introduced the proper ghazal to America.

Chris's talk was followed by a lively interactive session. At the end of the session, Gautam Datta, an engineer based in New Jersey, read a poem in Bangla and his translation of one of Chris's English pieces.

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