An internationally known neurosurgeon who is also a poet and art critic, Michael Salcman was born in Pilsen Czechoslovakia in 1946, the son of Holocaust survivors and came to the United States in 1949. After finishing the Six-Year Combined Program in Liberal Arts and Medical Education at Boston University, he was a Fellow in Neurophysiology at the National Institutes of Health and trained in neurosurgery at Columbia University’s Neurological Institute in New York. Former chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, his early medical career was profiled by Jon Franklin and Alan Doelp in Not Quite A Miracle (Doubleday, 1983). Salcman is the author of almost 200 scientific and medical articles as well as six textbooks; his medical books have been translated into Spanish, German, Portuguese and Chinese. He was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Boston University’s medical school and of Columbia University’s neurological institute. Former president of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore and the CityLit Project, Salcman lectures widely on art and the brain and on the brain and creativity. He currently serves as Special Lecturer in the Osher Institute at Towson University.
His first published poems appeared in the 1970s. Recent poems appear in Alaska Quarterly Review, Barrow Street, Harvard Review, Hopkins Review, The Hudson Review, New Letters, Notre Dame Review, Ontario Review, Poet Lore, and Raritan. His poems have been heard on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and he appears in Euphoria, an award-winning documentary on the brain and creativity. His poems have received six nominations for a Pushcart Prize, one for a Best of The Web Award, and have appeared on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily and in several anthologies. He has given readings at the Library of Congress, The National Academy of Sciences, The Academy of Medicine in Atlanta, the Writers Center in Bethesda, The Pratt Library in Baltimore, and Columbia University’s medical school. He is a poetry editor at The Baltimore Review. Dr. Salcman is the author of four chapbooks, the most recent of which is Stones In Our Pockets (Parallel Press, University of Wisconsin, 2007), and two previous collections, The Clock Made of Confetti (Orchises Press, 2007), nominated for The Poet’s Prize in 2009, and The Enemy of Good Is Better (Orchises, 2011). His widely-praised anthology of classic and contemporary poems on doctors, patients, illness and recovery, Poetry in Medicine, appeared in 2015 (Persea Books).
Michael’s lecture series in 2017:Lecture, Living in My Head, A Life in Art, Medicine & Poetry, Tuesday February 14, Hoffberger Center for Professional Ethics at the University of Baltimore, 5:30 PM; repeated on Wednesday February 15, 5:30 PM.
Poetry Reading for A Prague Suite, Before & After with Photographs by Lynn Silverman (MICA) at the Village Temple synagogue, West Village, New York, Friday March 3, 2017, 6:45 PM
Two Wednesday Lectures on Conceptual Art, Art Seminars Group, Walters Art Museum, 1:30 to 3 PM, March 8th and 15th, 2017
Poetry Reading for A Prague Suite, Before & After with Photographs by Lynn Silverman, The Writer’s Center, Bethesda, Sunday May 7, 2 PM
Poetry Reading for A Prague Suite, Before & After with Photographs by Lynn Silverman, Wilde Poetry Series, Howard County, Tuesday evening, October 10th, 6-10 PM
Four Wednesday Lectures on Art of the 1980s, October/November, 2017, Osher Institute at Towson University, 9:30-11:00 AM
Winner of the 2015 Sinclair Prize
A Prague Spring, Before & After, Poems by Michael Salcman
Cover and author’s photo: Lynn Silverman, Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge (2015)
A Prague Spring is a beautiful blend of the lyric imagination with historical and autobiographical facts. In this book, ignorance, cruelty, and murder lose. Art, and the truth, wins. THOMAS LUX, Bourne Chair in Poetry at the Georgia Institute of Technology, winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award and Author of God Particles
A work of great rage, sorrow, and love, Michael Salcman’s majestic A Prague Spring tells an almost unbearable story that needs to be told over and over and never forgotten. Beginning with coldly matter-of-fact poems of family members lost to and escaping the Shoah, Salcman documents how his parents survived and met, and how he got along in Brooklyn, the glorious borough of his childhood, baseball’s Dodgers, and the Brooklyn Bridge. Finally, he doubles back to visit the country of his birth. And in a series of stunning poems, a prose piece, and a tonal poem to his cousin Magda, Salcman ties together past and present, and gives us one more glimpse into the soul of a survivor, two really, his older cousin, and himself. ROBERT COOPERMAN, Author of In the Colorado Gold Fever Mountains, winner of the Colorado Book Award for Poetry
A Prague Spring is a near-epic book of history poems, interweaving the story of Prague with the Holocaust, family deaths and survivals, a book that stuns the reader with the enormities and sorrows of Time. Salcman uses the compression of narrative, meditative and lyric poetry to “bring you looted treasures: History’s twisted snakes.” Kafka and Salcman’s ancestors haunt the Czech capital where “a pile of dust once pushed a cart of salt and spices / on a medieval street.” The poems revisit totalitarian defenestrations, slaughters and repressions as they recount, wonder and pray. At once autobiography, history, testimonial and memorial, A Prague Spring is a revolutionary collection of important and necessary poems, confidently written and—especially with Salcman’s tonal skills—always absorbing; it is further deepened by how perfectly Lynn Silverman’s dark photographs of Prague capture that ancient city’s shadows and ghosts. DICK ALLEN, Connecticut State Poet Laureate (2010–2015) and Author of This Shadowy Place, Present Vanishing, and Ode to the Cold War: Poems New and Selected
LYNN SILVERMAN is a professor of photography at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. Her photographs are internationally shown and collected. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to the Czech Republic.
He has poems in Evening Street Review numbers 2, 4, 7, 9, 14, 15, 21, 28: