December 25, 2008

Review by Siobhan Watson

by Michael Salcman

Orchises Press
P.O. Box 320533
Alexandria, VA
ISBN-13: 978-1-932535-11-2
104 pp., $14.95

Michael Salcman’s book of poetry, The Clock Made of Confetti, is an ambitious first collection and an admirable work. Much of his work has previously appeared in a number of national publications, and it is clear that Salcman is no poetry novice, as he deftly maneuvers from poem to poem. The book is broken into five sections, each loosely fitting one category or theme. Most poems are written in free verse, although there are the occasional form poems (or form-inspired poems, as in the poem “September Sonnet,” which is only loosely based on the traditional form). The subject of the poems seems to offer a sampling of Salcman’s vast knowledge; he writes about public figures, fellow poets and authors, works of art (such as Vermeer’s “The Rokeby Venus”), issues of family, and Jewish heritage.

As becomes evident in his often analytic approach to his varied subjects, Salcman is a man of science—a practicing neurosurgeon in Baltimore, MD. He often infuses very specific scientific images or words that, without the aid of the extensive “notes” section of the book, the reader would probably not understand. This is not to say that science is dealt with poorly; in several poems, the intricacies of the human body are beautifully described with detailed images so vivid that one can picture the subject. An example of this is “Small Bones,” in which Salcman brings to life the bones of the hand:

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