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.

Dickens Fellowship
Feb 3 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

The Dickens Fellowship North of Boston Branch, Chartered Branch #204, is part of an international community celebrating Charles Dickens and promoting readership and appreciation of his works while educating about the ideas and social issues that were close to his heart.  The North of Boston Branch was founded in 2010 and meets monthly at the Salem Athenaeum.  Meetings involve book discussion as well as other Dickens-related programming and activities.  All are welcome to join the Fellowship and rekindle your enjoyment of Dickens or start anew.

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.

Salem Writers’ Group
Feb 20 @ 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.

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.