Photo Credit: Ann Slayton

Merrill Leffler

b. 1941

Current City, State, Country

Takoma Park, Maryland, USA

Birth City, State, Country

Brooklyn, New York, USA


Merrill Leffler is a poet, editor, and publisher. A former engineer, teacher, and science writer at the University of Maryland Sea Grant Program with a focus on the Chesapeake Bay. Raised in Brooklyn, New York, and High Point, North Carolina, he earned a B.S. at North Carolina State University and worked at NASA, before going on to do graduate work in literature at the University of Maryland and Oxford University. He taught English literature at Maryland and as an Assistant Professor at the U.S. Naval Academy

Leffler is the author of three collections of poetry: Mark the Music (2012, 2017), Take Hold (1997), and Partly Pandemonium, Partly Love (1984). He edited a special issue of Poet Lore (Israeli Poetry in translations), in addition to editing several issues of SHIRIM. He is a cofounder of the DC-area literary nonprofit The Writer’s Center, where he led poetry workshops.

Between 2011-2017, Leffler was poet laureate of Takoma Park, Maryland, where he lives with his wife, the poet Ann Slayton.

What is the relationship between Judaism and/or Jewish culture and your poetry?

My poems are rooted in what I take to be Jewish ethics as they are reflected in the Torah and the prophets, Talmudic commentaries, the spirit of Spinoza and Levinas,  Hebrew poetry of Sephardic, Spain, and the folklore of 18th century Hassidic rabbis.

Published Works

Mark the Music (Dryad Press, 2012, 2017)
Take Hold (Dryad Press, 1997)
Partly Pandemonium, Partly Love (Dryad Press 1984)

Author Site

Links to Sample Works

Video Reading


North Carolina State University, B.S. in Physics
Oxford University, St. Catherine’s College
University of Maryland, A.B.D. in English literature

Languages of Publication(s) and Poets Translated

Hebrew with the late Moshe Dor Poet translated: Israeli poet Eytan Eytan

Subject Matter