Ekphrastic Writing Workshop
Feb 3 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

The oldest meaning of the Greek-derived word “ekphrasis” is “out of speech” or “out of expression.” It is used to denote the age-old tradition of writing inspired from art. This workshop will focus on generating poetry at the intersection of writing and visual art by examining how various poets have responded to painting, sculpture, or photography. Examples of visual works of art will be provided, but you are encouraged to bring a favorite piece. And then, we will write! You may want to draft work to be shared at the Quinton Jones exhibit on February 9.


Jennifer Martelli’s debut poetry collection, The Uncanny Valley, was published in 2016 by Big Table Publishing Company. She is also the author of After Bird from Grey Book Press. Her work has appeared in Thrush, [Pank], Glass Poetry Journal, Cleaver, The Heavy Feather Review, The Ekphrastic Review, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal. Jennifer Martelli has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net Prizes and is the recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant in Poetry. She is a book reviewer for Up the Staircase Quarterly as well as the co-curator for The Mom Egg VOX Folio.

Ekphrastic Poetry
Feb 9 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning. (definition courtesy of www.poetryfoundation.org)

Join us for an evening of poetry written in response to Quinton Oliver Jones’ paintings — the current art exhibit of works in the Reading Room and Wendt Room of the Athenaeum. Tonight’s readers will include local writers: M.P. Carver, Cathy Fahey, Liz Hutchinson, Kali Lightfoot, Kevin McCarthy, Peter Urkowitz, Clay Ventre, and Hannah Wagner.

Book Group
Feb 10 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm

Discussion group meets on the second Saturday of the month at 11:00 a.m.

View the reading list.

CSEM: Renaissance & Baroque Masterpieces from Spain
Feb 10 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm

CSEM Presents

La Folia: Renaissance & Baroque Masterpieces from Spain

Ensemble Trés Maresienne
Lisa Brooke, violin

Olav Chris Henriksen, vihuela & guitar

Carol Lewis, viola da gamba


Writing Workshop: World Building
Feb 24 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
When writing fiction, particularly genre fiction, one of the greatest hurdles a new writer faces is developing the world in which their story takes place. Whether it mirrors the real world or is built from scratch, is grounded in history or has a timeline of its own, the writer must be their own architect of the setting their characters will exist in and that their readers will accompany them in exploring. Join us for a discussion on establishing your fictional world, from geography and history to physics and magic. Bring your questions, roadblocks, and challenges on fictional world-building.
Matthew Phillion is the author of the young adult adventure series, The Indestructibles. He writes in a variety of genres. His screenwriting and directing debut, the romantic comedy Certainly Never, premiered in 2013 at the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival, was nominated for five awards including best screenplay and best New England film. An active freelance writer, Phillion continues to write about both local issues and the medical industry as both a journalist and newspaper editor.
Technicolor Funky Munchie Daydream Experience
Mar 3 @ 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Come to our annual fundraiser party!


Did you miss the Sixties? Do you miss the Sixties? Either way, this is your chance to relive Woodstock, Motown, The Beatles & Alice’s Restaurant!

Got the munchies? We’ll have plenty of food, cash bar & live music from the Sixties performed by the band Rule of 3.

Sixties-style threads and treads encouraged but not required.


Book Group
Mar 10 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm

Discussion group meets on the second Saturday of the month at 11:00 a.m.

View the reading list.

Spring Course: Victorian Hearts and Minds
Mar 10 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Theo Theoharis, instructor
6 Saturdays

The term Victorian has accumulated many meanings in the 100 years since its century and ruler have passed–stodgy, disciplined, sentimental are a few words associated with English life during the century that made England the ruling power economically and politically in much of the world. In this class we will read some of the literature which presents different moods, ideas, and aspirations from those we are accustomed to thinking of as Victorian, namely: antic comedy and cultural fantasizing in two novels, and longing, depth psychology, and sublimity in three poets. We will start with Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, then move on to the poems of Matthew Arnold, Robert Browning, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and end with the Imperial Adventure story She, by H. Rider-Haggard, a great popular favorite whose readers included Sigmund Freud. There is a light-heartedness and well as intensity about the literature of this era. Let’s discover how these two tones relate to a world now past, which in many ways created and continues in ours.

The following is the list of preferred editions for the course texts:

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll, Modern Library
ISBN 978-0-375-76-138-6

The Penguin Book of Victorian Verse, editor Daniel Karlin, Penguin Classics
ISBN 978-0-140-44578-7

She, H. Rider Haggard, Penguin Classics
ISBN 978-0-140-43763-8



Class 1, Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland

Class 2, Through the Looking Glass

Class 3, Poems by Arnold, Browning, Tennyson

Class 4, Poems by Arnold, Browning, Tennyson

Class 5, She: A History of Adventure

Class 6, She: A History of Adventure



Reappraisal Reading Circle: Dorothy Canfield Fisher
Mar 12 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Reappraisal Reading Circle meets to discuss the works of prolific, popular authors of the past whose works are held in quantity by the Athenaeum.

All are welcome to participate!


On January 11, 2018, an article in the “Seven Days,” an online journal calling itself “Vermont’s Independent Voice,” reported that the Vermont State Library Board voted 7-0 to recommend the state librarian remove Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s name from the children’s book award named for her. The reason? Fisher was associated with the Vermont Commission on Country Life, an outgrowth of the Vermont Eugenics Survey. Additionally, her books reveal racial stereotyping of French Canadians, Native Americans, and “gypsy families.”

Coincidentally, Fisher is the Reappraisal Reading Circle’s choice for March. Read some of her writings and come discuss these allegations and more on March 3, 2018 at 7pm. Fisher’s novels range from studies of marriage (The Deepening Stream, The Brimming Cup, The Squirrel Cage ) to social problems (Bonfire, Seasoned Timber). She was an acknowledged liberal thinker, perhaps best known for her children’s stories, interest in Vermont folkways, and involvement in educational reform. Her efforts to improve education include translating and promoting the works of Maria Montessori, managing the country’s first adult education program, and improving education in rural areas and in prisons. She was also a popular writer although never acclaimed for her style or innovation. Generally, her books are considered “well crafted, truthful looks at American lives,” but one of her critics, Edward Wagenknecht, complained that she never learned how to be selective and could bury her reader under masses of detail. Perhaps that is why her simpler children’s stories continue to be most frequently read.

In any case, Dorothy Canfield Fisher was an amazing woman, especially for her time. Cosmopolitan and exceptionally well educated, she was fluent in five languages and the recipient of eight honorary degrees. She wrote 40 books, and was an involved social critic and activist, educator, and mother. Eleanor Roosevelt thought her one of the most influential women in the country.

What will her legacy be?


Upcoming discussions:

May 14

A Tale of Two Seaports: Salem and Newport
Mar 16 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Salem, MA and Newport, RI are two great New England seaports with storied histories and rich architectural legacies. The streets, wharves and squares of the two towns will be examined from colonial times to the present, discovering parallels and distinctions arising from the topographic, economic and cultural forces that shaped these communities. This illustrated lecture will feature a treasure trove of period maps, paintings, illustrations and photography.

John Tschirch is an Architectural Historian specializing in buildings, landscapes and urban planning. He is presently Visiting Curator of Urban History for the Newport Historical Society where he is lead scholar for “Mapping the Newport Experience,” a project documenting the development of the city’s urban plan and the cultural response to its streetscapes by artists, writers and residents. John also teaches at Rhode Island School of Design and specializes in architectural, urban and landscape photography.

He has lectured widely in the U.S. and abroad on historic houses, landscapes and their preservation, from the 2012 Attingham Conference in London to the 1999 UNESCO sponsored conference on Architecture and Culture in Buenos Aires.

John is presently writing a collection of short stories (to be published on Amazon in summer of 2018) entitled Gods and Girls: Tales of Art, Seduction and Obsession, focused on the adventures of a series of heroines who encounter works of art and historic places that forever change the course of their lives. He is the creator and author of a monthly design history blog called John Stories, which features his photography and commentary on art, architecture and landscape. His work may be seen at www.johnstories.com.


The Salem History Lecture is presented annually by Historic Salem, Inc. and the Salem Athenaeum.