Thomas Forrest Kelly: The Story of Musical Notation
Jan 19 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

If Music Could Talk, the Athenaeum’s new series of musical performances also includes brief demonstrations, conversations about music, and audience interaction.

Professor Kelly is the Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music, former chair of Harvard’s Music Department, and an expert in Medieval music. Renowned as a speaker who can make his subject come alive, he was selected from among the entire faculty for one of the pilot projects of EdX, Harvard’s online learning program. Kelly’s book Capturing Music: The Story of Notation was published in 2014 by Norton to wide acclaim. This presentation will feature slides (including illuminated manuscripts and architecture) and many recorded musical examples.




La Tertulia
Jan 23 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

La Tertulia is a group of members interested in keeping their Spanish speaking skills in practice. They meet on 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month.

Incessant Pipe Poetry Salon
Jan 23 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

The Incessant Pipe Poetry Salon will meet on the 4th Tuesday of every month at 7pm upstairs in the Salem Athenaeum. “The Pipe” is a space to read poetry, yours or others, and discuss everything from the price of tea in China to quantum particles (as long as it relates back to poetry). All styles of poetry are welcome.

Confluence: Swanson & Scrimgeour
Jan 26 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Part of our If Music Could Talk series:

Confluence, the performance group consisting of musician Philip Swanson and writer J.D. Scrimgeour specializes in telling stories through a combination of poetry and music. The pair will present two of their major pieces, “The Baby” and “Ogunquit,” and engage in a dialogue with the audience about their work and the relation of words to music.


J.D. Scrimgeour is the author of three collections of poetry, including the recently released Lifting the Turtle. He’s also the author of two books of nonfiction, including Themes for English B: A Professor’s Education In & Out of Class, which won the AWP Award for Nonfiction. In addition to his work on Confluence, his interests in interdisciplinary work have led him to collaborate with choreographer Caitlin Corbett and photographer Kim Mimnaugh, and he wrote the book for the musical, Only Human, which premiered in Ames Hall in Salem in 2014. He is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Salem State University, and he is the Co-Chair of the Athenaeum Writing Committee.


Philip Swanson has had a wide ranging career as a trombonist, pianist, composer, organist, conductor, and teacher. He received a Doctor of Musical Arts from New England Conservatory, Master of Music from the Eastman School, and did his undergraduate study at Oberlin Conservatory and the University of Miami.

As a trombonist he has performed with the Miami Philharmonic, where he served as principal for five years, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, Opera Boston, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Boston Ballet Orchestra, and numerous other orchestral and chamber ensembles. He has performed with numerous small group and big band jazz ensembles including Chamber Jazz, which he founded with guitarist Anthony Weller and The Bob Nieske 10. He also has collaborated with the poet J.D. Scrimgeour, Director of Creative Writing at Salem State University, forming the group “Confluence” which combines Scrimgeour’s poetry with his music.

Swanson is Professor of Music at Salem State University where he teaches music theory, composition, trombone and piano. Since 1991 he has been Music Director of the First Congregational Church of Rockport where he serves as organist and choir director.

Swanson has written and published numerous works in both instrumental and vocal genres. He can be heard on a wide range of recordings including several jazz groups, two solo piano recordings, an album with J.D. Scrimgeour of poetry and music, and performances with larger ensembles including the Boston Pops and John Williams.

For information on his compositions, recordings and current performances visit: www.swansonmusic.com.

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.

Salem Writers’ Group
Feb 6 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

All are welcome to bring work-in-progress to share with the group for feedback. The group is facilitated by J.D. Scrimgeour, Professor of English, Salem State University.

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


La Tertulia
Feb 13 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

La Tertulia is a group of members interested in keeping their Spanish speaking skills in practice. They meet on 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month.