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After the Fact: If & When and Here & Now- Marvin Bell and Christopher Merrill 
$18.00 - ISBN 978-1-945680-72-4
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The concluding volumes of a ten-year-long conversation in prose poetry between the award-winning poets Marvin Bell and Christopher Merrill. They write from different generations and places around the world on a range of themes from memory to politics, aging and mortality, the vagaries of desire and the imagination.

Bell and Merrill wanted to create a wide-ranging dialogue to explore the meaning not only of their separate experiences but of the very ways in which a collaboration fosters a deeper engagement with each other—and the world. In his penultimate message to Merrill, written just hours before he suffered a heart attack from which he never recovered, Bell said that what he loved about their collaboration was that each new prose poem defined his immediate future—which was what After the Fact provided both of them for ten glorious years.


“Prose was always meant for colloquy, risk, and intimacy. With these rich and conversant prose poems Marvin Bell and Christopher Merrill return spoken language to sport—sometimes competitive, but often cooperative, exploratory, even humanely probative. What is a friend? Bell and Merrill demonstrate

friendship is drawn from imagination.”


—Stephen Kuusisto author of Letters to Borges


“The best conversationalists intuit and respond to unspoken questions and interstitial meanings, sidelong concerns and secret subjects. They also know how to listen to another’s story and hear the line or inflection that calls forth their own tale in a way that enlarges, well, everything. Marvin Bell and Christopher Merrill’s stunning epistolary paragraphs illustrate the inner workings of just such an intimate, agile, and sustained conversation. This collaborative, high wire act offers up profound truths in exactly the way the most exciting poems take shape—by leaps of imagination and complete trust in the power of association to bring up riches, songs, and wisdom from the depths.”


—Lia Purpura author of On Looking

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. As director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa since 2000, Merrill has conducted cultural diplomacy missions to more than fifty countries.


Marvin Bell’s works include collaborations with musicians, composers, dancers, poets and photographers—among them, poet William Stafford and photographer Nathan Lyons—and volumes of an original poetic form most recently collected in Incarnate: The Collected Dead Man Poems. He lived in Iowa City, Iowa, and Port Townsend, Washington. He died in 2020.

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