According to distinguished poet Eleanor Wilner, Constance Merritt is “a poet to defeat categories, to oppose the ‘tyranny of names’ with a poetry that sets its own terms of encounter . . . tender and austere, formal and intimate at once.” Merritt's first collection of poems, A Protocol for Touch (University of North Texas Press, 2000), was the 1999 Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry selection and a finalist for the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Book Award. Her poems have appeared in two anthologies and in numerous literary journals. She recently received a 2001 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award.
During her Radcliffe fellowship, Merritt will work on poems for her next collection, “Two Rooms,” which explore the often conflicting claims of life and art, world and word, cultural heritage and cultural affinities, and asceticism and whatever is its opposite—idolatry? thrall?—vis à vis the sacral, erotic, and creative imaginations.
Merritt earned an MA in British and American literature at the University of Utah, an MFA in creative writing from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.