The Write Space is a new Q&A series from Creative Salem covering a local writer and a Salem space s/he associates with writing. Taking suggestions for who to cover next at [email protected].
Give us your best writerly bio.
J.D. Scrimgeour is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Salem State University. He has published two books of nonfiction, Spin Moves and Themes For English B: A Professor’s Education In & Out of Class. The latter won the Association of Writers and Writing Program’s (AWP) Award for Nonfiction. He’s also the author of the poetry collections The Last Miles and Territories and his latest book of poems, Lifting the Turtle, will be published in November 2017. He has collaborated with artists in other mediums, including choreographer Caitlin Corbett, photographer Kim Mimnaugh, and Director Peter Sampieri. With musician Philip Swanson he released the CD of poetry and music, Ogunquit & Other Works.
The musical that he composed with his two sons, Aidan and Guthrie, Only Human, premiered in Salem’s Ames Hall Theater in 2014.
Tell us about your Salem Write Space.
I write primarily at my kitchen table or at the Salem Athenaeum [http://salemathenaeum.net]. The Athenaeum is a unique place and space, one that feels timeless and aged, and, with all the books surrounding me, it makes me feel that words matter. It has supported many writing programs and continues to be a hub for writers in the area. I’ve been writing there for over a decade, and I open it up one morning a week for the community to come and write.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a series of short stories about youth baseball set in a town that resembles Salem. These stories have made me start thinking about compiling a compendium of my writing about Salem, a mix of poetry, fiction and essays. I’ve always enjoyed books and writing that resist easy genre classification.
I hope to begin charting it out next year.
When I’m in Salem, not writing, I love to be …
… swatting tennis balls on the courts at Salem State; cooling off in the ocean at Winter Island; walking through downtown and out to the lighthouse on Derby Wharf; meeting with writers, students and former students at Gulu-Gulu, Front Street, or Jaho–oh, and on the jigglator at Salem Willows!
Enjoy a few paragraphs on Salem from Scrimgeour’s View from Sunset Rock [http://solsticelitmag.org/content/featured-view-sunset-rock/], an essay on artist Thomas Cole that appeared in Solstice.
Oh, old city of the new world, painted and repainted, lead-painted and spray-painted, bricked and cobbled, burned to the ground and risen, shallow-harbored and forgotten, scene of early sins, Naumkeag, Shalom. Now some say the accusing girls may have gone delirious because of something in the bread, now they shut down the coal-burning plant that paid for our schools and ruined our lungs.
I stand in you, I walk in you, I bike through you. I hear your sirens and cicadas, I swim at your small, waveless beaches. I drip my sweat on your asphalt. I listen to your poems every other Tuesday. I lie in a hammock and sleep in you, the shade of you.