Poet and Scientist
|Ted Melnechuk turned 70 this past January 7th. He is the husband of Anna; with her, a
parent of four people; and by himself the author of 5000 poems, serious and light, of
which 3000 are limericks, and the author or editor of 200 scientific publications. He is
still active as a poet, playwright and composer, and also as a scholar of science
communication, neuroscience, and psychoneuroimmunology. He works in these arts and
sciences at his one-man Institute of Neuropoetics, and frequently gives invited poetry
readings and scientific lectures, the latter as an Associate Member of the graduate
program in Neuroscience and Behavior at the University of Massachusetts.
Ted published his first poem and first scientific paper at 14. At Columbia University he won poetry prizes awarded by W. H. Auden and Stephen Spender, along with his classmates Allen Ginsberg and John Hollander. Unlike them, however, he did not go onto Bohemia or Academia, instead becoming a freelance scientific writer and editor while working half-time as manager of a non-profit choral society. Only at 35 did he get involved with Academia, when he was invited to MIT after helping to found an international journal of science and technology. At MIT, and then simultaneously at Boston University, and later at Western Behavioral Sciences Institute and the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, he helped found research and educational programs and societies, founded scientific journals and book series, wrote books that were firsts on their subjects, chaired or served on national committees, and consulted with federal agencies, foundations, research institutions, publishers and TV producers. He has received research and artistic grants, been made an honorary member of medical research societies, and served on the boards of directors of non-profit foundations sponsoring new music, new playwrights, and public-access television. Until a family health problem occurred last year, he was for some years an editor of a neuroscientific journal, the producer of public access TV programs on cultural highlights, the host of monthly open poetry readings at the Black Sheep Cafe in Amherst, and a winning participant in local poetry slams.
Ted has not sought publication for his poems for 50 years, but has let editors print some in literary and scientific publications (in the latter case, under the pen name of Dr. Orpheus). For one journal he recently filled a commission for a two-page poem on the history of modern neuroscience. All of his five produced experimental plays have been in verse, some with incidental music he composed.