Merle Lyn Bachman grew up in Albany, New York. She is the granddaughter of Yiddish-speaking immigrants who fled the Ukraine and Romania and came to New York around 1912, where they tried (and failed) at chicken farming. A poet who delights in writing prose and exploring the arbitrary boundaries between these genres, Bachman has had poetry and other writing published in many journals since the early 1990s, including Talisman, Chain, ABACUS, Five Fingers Review, Tupelo Quarterly and Paideuma. She has also published two poetry chapbooks, two full-length poetry books, and one book (with co-editor Anthony Rudolf, in London) featuring the selected poems of Scottish-Jewish poet A. C. Jacobs. Her latest book is a hybrid-genre memoir, Thank You for Being: A Poet’s Memoir of Home.
On the academic side, Bachman earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Mills College in Oakland, California and a PhD in English at the University at Albany (State University of New York). Her dissertation, a combination of literary criticism, translation of Yiddish poetry, and memoir, was later published by Syracuse University Press as Recovering “Yiddishland": Threshold Moments in American Literature.
After living in the Boston area and, for many years, in Northern California, Bachman became Professor of English at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky and director of its BFA program in Creative Writing. She retired in 2019. Yiddish, the beloved language of her grandparents, remains a focus of study and scholarship, and she is an alumna Translation Fellow of the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA.
Over the years, Bachman has given innumerable readings of her poetry at venues ranging from The Center for Book Arts in New York City to bookstores and art galleries in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has given invited talks about the American Yiddish poet, Rosa Nevadovska, at Smith College (the Global Studies Program) and the University of Michigan (Frankel Center of Judaic Studies). In addition, Bachman has presented her work on A. C. Jacobs and his poetry in England, at the University of Portsmouth, at the Open University in London and at the London Jewish Book Fair, and in Scotland, at the St. Andrew's STanza Festival, Blackwell’s Books (Edinburgh) and the Scottish Jewish Archive (Glasgow).
Merle now resides with her partner Terry in Bloomington, Indiana, along with their cats, Byron and Shelley. She enjoys dark chocolate, cold spring weather, old movies and Duolingo, where she is an ongoing student of whatever language she has currently fallen in love with. This makes sense, of course, since she is a word woman…