Eva Salzman's home page

Eva Salzman  





Eva Salzman grew up in Brooklyn and on Long Island where she was a dancer/choreographer. At Stuyvesant H.S., her teacher was Frank McCourt, and later, at Bennington College and Columbia University, where she received her MFA, she studied with Derek Walcott, Joseph Brodsky, C.K. Williams, Edmund White, Elizabeth Hardwick, Stanley Kunitz, Carolyn Kizer, Stephen Sandy and Jorie Graham. Her books include The English Earthquake (Bloodaxe) Bargain with the Watchman (Oxford) and, One Two II (Wrecking Ball Press), illus. Van Howell, all Poetry Book Society Recommendations/Special Commendations.

Her grandmother was a child vaudeville actress, and her mother is an environmentalist. This background, and a diverse range of jobs - as Exercise Director of a Brooklyn orthodox Jewish diet centre, out-of-print book searcher and cleaner of rich ladies' houses - all inform her writing, especially her cross-arts projects with performers and visual artists. She has collaborated with the director Rufus Norris and with composers Gary Carpenter, Rachel Leach, Philip Cashian and A.L. Nicolson. Shawna and Ron's Half Moon: An Americana Satire and One Two, commissioned by the English National Opera Studio, were performed there, at Hoxton Hall and at Greenwich Theatre. Cassandra, a mini-opera written with her composer father, Eric Salzman, has been performed in Dusseldorf, Vienna and Oslo. She won 2nd Prize in the National Poetry Competition and major prizes in the Arvon and Cardiff Poetry Competitions. Grants and awards include those from the Arts Council, Royal Literary Fund, London Arts Board and the Society of Authors

Her work has frequently been broadcast on BBC radio, and has read her work at the Royal Festival Hall, Barbican, Poetry Society, Troubadour and at festivals all over the UK, as well as in Ireland, Spain and France. In the US, she has read at the Nuyorican Café, the Walt Whitman Association and at Wesleyan Writers' Conference, where she also taught, as a Fellow two years running. Her varied teaching work has included Adjunct Professor at Friends World Programme (Long Island University, London, regular teaching for the Arvon courses, for community projects in London's East End and a residency at Springhill Prison, as well as continuing work for the Poetry Society's educational programmes, and co-devising the Open University's first Start Writing Poetry course.

Her poetry, fiction and features have appeared in the New Yorker, Kenyon, Review, Independent, Guardian, Observer, Poetry Review, TLS, London Magazine, and in the anthologies: The Firebox ed. Sean O'Brien; Hand in Hand ed. Carol Ann Duffy; Sixty Women Poets ed. Linda France; Last Words eds. Don Paterson & Jo Shapcottl; and two New Writing anthologies (British Council/Picador/Vintage) eds. John Fowles, A.L. Kennedy, Penelope Lively & George Szirtes.

She holds a West Midlands Writing Fellowship at Warwick University, where she's taught the Poetry MA, and a Royal Literary Fund Project Fellowship at Ruskin College, Oxford. Currently, she is editing an anthology of Ruskin (Oxford) work, writing fiction and an opera for Buxton Festival 2005 (composer: Ian McQueen). Her latest book, Double Crossing: New and Selected Poems (Bloodaxe 2004) is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. She now lives in London.



Double Crossing: New and Selected Poems (Bloodaxe 2004) is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, Summer 2004. 

Eva Salzman's first book The English Earthquake (Bloodaxe 1992) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and her second volume Bargain With The Watchman (Oxford University Press 1997) was a Special Commendation.  (www.poetrybooks.co.uk)

One Two (Jones Press, 2002)

cover art - One Two (illustration by Van Howell)
One Two II (Wrecking Ball Press, 2002)
** Poetry Book Society Special Commendation 2003

Books may be purchased from the following links:   

Anthologies (Fiction, Poetry, Non-Fiction) 

  • Forward Book of Poetry 2005

  • From There to Here: Progress & Evolution (MIT 2004)

  • New Writing 10, eds. George Szirtes and Penelope Lively (Picador 2001)

  • Writing on Water, ed. David Rothenberg (MIT 2001)

  • New Writing 9, eds. John Fowles and A.L. Kennedy (British Council/Vintage 2000

  • Hand in Hand, ed. Carol Ann Duffy (Picador 2001)

  • Last Words, eds. Don Paterson and Jo Shapcott (Picador 1999)

  • The Firebox, ed. Sean O'Brien (Picador 1998)

  • Ring of Words, Intro. Andrew Motion (Sutton 1998)

  • Binary Myths (Stride 1998)

  • The Dybbuk of Delight: An Anthology of Jewish Women's Poetry (Five Leaves 1995)

  • Sixty Women Poets, ed. Linda France (Bloodaxe 1993)

  • New Women Poets, ed. Carol Rumens (Bloodaxe 1991)

  • Trees Be Company (Green Books 1989/2001)

Magazines/Periodicals/Newspapers (Poetry, Features, Reviews) 

  • Times
  • Independent
  • Independent on Sunday
  • Observer
  • Telegraph
  • Times Literary Supplement
  • Guardian
  • Express
  • Poetry London Newsletter
  • Raw Edge



  • Poetry Review
  • London Magazine
  • Mslexia
  • Ambit
  • Verse
  • Poetry Durham
  • Poetry Nottingham
  • Opera Now


US & International
  • New Yorker
  • Kenyon Review
  • Terra Nova
  • Ledge
  • MSS
  • Mind the Gap
  • Terrain
  • Yellow Silk
  • Passages North
  • European Judaism
  • Sibila (Spain)
  • Poesie Premiere (France) 
  • National Poetry Review
  • and other Eastern European publications.
On-Line Journals
  • Terrain
  • Mot Juste
  • Boomerang


what the press says


Double Crossing: New & Selected Poems (Bloodaxe 2004)
Poetry Book Society Recommendation Summer 2004
Salzman's work has always been distinguished by its variety and energy. She is a great lover and a great hater, with the wit and technique to sustain both...Reading through the volume her central themes of the splitting and doubling of self, loss and the embracing of loss, become clearer and more poignant...

Her satirical bent, perhaps emboldened by her libretto work, finds stronger rhymes and wicked themes, ranging from a lover's new lovers to the overtly political - the Buddhas of Bamiyan, female circumcision. The sensuality - the appetite - are strong as ever,

...Her poetic territory might provoke comparison with Sylvia Plath or Anne Sexton. But, for all the boldly acknowledged suffering, Salzman is an affirmative poet....an original and enjoyable poet.

One Two II: a songbook (Wrecking Ball Press 2003)
Poetry Book Society Special Commendation Spring 2003
Daring, funny, fierce and musical, Eva Salzman has in her new collection managed to combine a robust yet never unsubtle take on modern life and love. Addressing itself primarily to the muse and the blues, this 'songbook' is woven through with references to history and myth so that the personal is always balanced by an awareness of community to which she sings.

The epigraph to the collection draws on St Thomas 'When one becomes two what will you do?' and this becomes the central metaphor of the book: twins, doubles, doppelgangers. For a short book with so light a touch there's a tightness and surety to the way in which preoccupations are worked through. So that amidst the personal lamentation of 'Remembering Before Forgetting' and 'After Verlaine' are juxtaposed a poem on the Brooklyn Bridge, a poem about the Buddhas of Bamiyan, as well as a poem on the cutting of the OUP poetry list, the sharply satirical 'In the OUP hospital' where she writes 'I'd rather be lying unpublished / than be published by you and be dead'. Refreshing, dangerous, ironic, always surprising, this is Salzman at her most Salzmannesque.

Peter Porter:
With two published collections to her credit and a remarkable compilation recently made ready for publication, Eva Salzman is one of the most accomplished poets working in Britain today.

She is, of course, a New Yorker, but such is the universal catchment area of poetry now that her living and writing in Britain does not make her either an American or a British Poet, but simply a very good one. Perhaps, though, her wit, directness and fresh approach to language, whether fierce or lyrical, may be seen as American qualities. I stress this sharpness towards language, the very edginess of words themselves, since her poetry is always daring yet realistic - there is never any fustian in her work.

Her first book, The English Earthquake (Bloodaxe), was full of promise and showed a determination to make real events abut on the visionary. With her second volume, Bargain with the Watchman (OUP), several notches of excitement were racked up. She moved with great certainty through that treacherous territory for poets: autobiography and childhood induction. The eye was bright, but, rather in the way of Sylvia Plath, so was the apprehension. Technically, the book dazzled.

Her latest collection, One Two II, adds a classic tone to her sureness. The first possible title connects several poems which deal with twins, fate, oracular pronouncements and the conditioning of lives at the hands of the gods, while the second is a long and warm account of discovering the self during foreign travel. Nothing less like a picturesque or exotic pilgrimage could be imagined. The book begins with excellent poems about uncompromising subjects - viz female circumcision, the Brooklyn Bridge" (this a marvelously evocative sonnet), the destroyed Afghan Buddhas, and the encroachment of fantasy on worried minds. The longer section of the book is made up of runic verses composed in and around music.

It is one of Eva Salzman's special gifts to bring to the assembling of poetry some of the sense she has of the way music is put together. This is not just parallel lyricism, but a true understanding of how music and poetry share thematic bases, and an aphoristic economy. From the first moment I encountered her poetry, I knew that Eva Salzman was the real thing, devoted to a demanding but sparkling art. She teaches the craft of verse writing, and especially enjoys working with composers and practical enthusiasts. She is at the height of her powers at the moment.

William Meredith & Richard Harteis:
Her first book, The English Earthquake, was indeed itself a small earthquake in the poetry world in England. Like an American Samuel Gulliver, she looks at English life and culture with the fresh eyes of the foreigner. The insights are at times irreverent, at others simply beautiful, but they are always true to the mark.

In the title poem, "the Ex-Major winds back the years to the war - its incendiary thrill - his wife flushed with disbelief as the earth moves unexpectedly," and describes "the settling ground, innocent with rape and mustard, groaning under its weight of roses." In other poems such as "Ending up in Kent," and "Where I live" she becomes the poet/voyeur into English life. There is a lovely quirkiness in her work, like the idiosyncratic friends she writes of. Her view of sexual love is slant and complex employing fresh, sometimes shocking metaphors.

The voice is that of a very sophisticated woman, not quite at home in the world, ruminating on love, trying to make sense of the nostalgia she feels eating at her soul. It is an appealing voice. In her second book, Bargain with the Watchman, Eva perfects the formal qualities of her work, particularly in the ambitious series of poems on the muses as men and the long sequence, "Poor Relations." An earlier poem, "Time Out," fractures the formal scheme of the poem in a wonderfully appropriate way in the last two words, rounding off the wit of her poetic conjecture on time.

Her imagery can be stunningly beautiful with great lyric power. Eva Salzman is a young poet of proven merit and great potential.

'Ms Salzman¹s restless imagination, acute satiric intelligence and formal panache mark her out as one of the finest poets around. Her work has developed from the sharply ironic and often beautiful English Earthquake, through the more ambitious range of Bargain with the Watchman, to her powerful new poems with their slangy immediacy, song-led diction and splendid visual imagery.' - Michael Donaghy

 'Impressive, ingenious...an army of Muses for the sex way.' - Sean O'Brien, Sunday Times

'A major talent....Plenty of bite...the hormones are almost good enough to smell." - Poetry Review

 'Eva Salzman's latest (work) arrests its reader-listener with the same energy and musical directness of voice as its highly acclaimed predecessor Bargain with the Watchman (OUP 1997)...explores with moving lyricism an idea which haunts much of the compilation - the notion of the missing, the flip side, "beauty's shadow"...Salzman's inventiveness commands attention as much with the ear as with the imagination...her harmonic and metrical skills are at full strength, at their most evocative perhaps in the wonderfully echoing sonnet "Brooklyn Bridge"' - Jane Draycott, Poetry London

''(Auden and Lowell are present) in a transatlantic volleying of influence. "The Dolphin", "For Lizzie and Harriet" and parts of History inform Bargain with the Watchman's first and last sections, (in which) sonnet variants depict erotic and familial parleys with a brutally Lowellian immediacy. With the publication of her second book, the American-born Londoner Salzman joins the front ranks of Britain's "New Gen" poets.' - Diann Blakely, The Antioch Review

 'One nice thing about having been in the trade for fifty years is that eventually you get to review books by women like Eva Salzman...Bloodaxe has scored again...Unforgettable images, controlled feeling, structured rhymes...A major talent..." Elizabeth Bartlett, Poetry Review

'Eva Salzman is one of the most singular and underrated of the wave of younger poets publishing at the moment...The excellent title poem, "Bargain with the Watchman", is especially successful because its ending gives the suggested danger an added historical resonance...(This volume) will repay continued rereading (and) should be valued as an antidote to poetry's present cults of domesticity and discursive verse." - Conor O'Callaghan, Times Literary Supplement

"Many of The English Earthquake's best poems reveal a sharp humour, and at times Martian wit and the careful structures produced by a desire to debunk the very art that is being created. Salzman' subversive stance is used to entertaining effect. The distinctive poise of The English Earthquake's best pieces promises much." - David Kennedy, Times Literary Supplement

Plenty of bite...the hormones are almost good enough to smell...as in "Spells", "Muse of Spleen" and "Poor Relations"...But Salzman doesn't always wear her "Don't mess with me" hat....Equally memorable are the poems "Memorable" and "Christmas at the In-Laws", while "Trepanned" and "Alex, Tiffany, Meg" are two wilder (sonnets) that also deserve a mention. This is an excellent book. If she does it with as much style as in Bargain with the Watchman, (she) can stick a needle in me any time.' - David Wheatley, Poetry Review

 '...une poesie du concret et de l'inavouable, tranchante, lumineuse..." - Daniel Leuwers, Poesie Premiere No. 16

 '(In the) most evocative...writing...the mechanism becomes invisible and sometime mysterious. You can't see how those words produce that effect...(as with a poem) by Eva Salzman...in which the heat rises form the page...(there's) example after example of descriptive language which is as mysteriously good as that, and yet...this brilliance of description (isn't an end in itself, as with certain other writers)....the evocativeness of the expression, the verbal richness, are not the 'trick' of the poem..."Poor Relations"...has in it some of the most perfectly integrated single poems...The kind of poetry you an go on finding things in...The particular mix of almost documentary detail, wonderfully sharp portraiture and an over arching irony recalls some of the best modern American writing.' - Peter McSlov, Poetry North

 'Her American voice swaggers sassily across the proprieties of English metre, pricking the bloat of monumentalism, and pointing up the slangy contingency of things." - David Herd, New Statesman

 'She has a satirist's eye and ear alert to the emotional and verbal cliché, the easy lie, and she can be gracefully ruthless. She can shift register from the formal and elegiac to an astringent New York sarcasm. She can shuffle the vocabularies of love and landscape, turn the grotesque poignant, the funny terrifying - a facility rare on either side of the Atlantic.' Michael Donaghy

 'She writes in a laconic, sassy voice.' Sarah Maguire, The Listener

 'Her writing takes the piss out of the uprightness of poetic pose.' Briar Wood, City Limits

 'Cool, appraising eye and sharp tongue get to work on sex and men.' - Independent on Sunday "Poetry Pick of the Year" 1997

 'The English Earthquake casts laconic and often merciless gaze on English life. In Bargain with the Watchman, her capacity for disturbing surrealism intensified...taut (poems) that use strange and elliptical images to explore the complexities and compromises of sexual relationships." - Christina Patterson, Independent Choice

 'Through her sceptical...slant on life...and fresh diction, Salzman here helps to revive the sonnet...She forsakes the workshop to go to school on, say, Philip Larkin, and the later Plath......(also recalling) the satire of Pound in Mauberley, Eliot, or more recently, Larkin....cheeky, ironical...' - George Held, American Book Review

 'Her imagery can be stunningly beautiful with great lyric power. Eva Salzman is a young poet of proven merit and great potential.' - William Meredith & Richard Harteis

editorial work

Encarta Book of Quotations (Bloomsbury 2000) - Contributing Editor

Lorca: A Biography (Bloomsbury 1999) - Copy Editor

The Printer's Devil (now The Devil) - Editor

Springboard (HMP Springhill 1992-4) - Editor

Ice on the Wing (Brighton Poets 1990)

Globetown PIE: An Anthology of Poems (Oxford House/Bethnal Green) - Co-Editor with Val Bloom

 teaching and residencies

West Midlands Writing Fellow at University of Warwick, co-taught the Poetry MA with Michael Hulse (2003)

Co-wrote the Open University's first poetry writing course, due to be launched in 2004

Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Ruskin College, Oxford

Wesleyan Writers Conference (US) - Fellow/Visiting Writer 1999/2000

Springhill Prison - Writer in Residence 1992-4

Poetry Society's Poet in the City Project 1999-Current  http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk/education/poetcity.htm

Poetry Society's Poetryclass 2001-Current
http://www.poetryclass.net/team.htm#Eva Salzman

Arvon Courses - 1994-Current

Adjunct Professor at Friends World Programme (Long Island University - London branch

She has worked with the elderly, the mentally ill and disabled. 



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