Artists’ Statement

We are both artists, and we are both teachers, and Confluence originated from a teaching idea.  We wanted to bring our respective students, in writing and music, together and expose them to collaboration across the disciplines.  In our conversations, we decided that we should try the process ourselves first, and so, without realizing the ambitions of the project, we set out to integrate J.D.’s long poem, “Ogunquit” and Phil’s music.  Much of the artistic process involved collaborative decisions about how the music and words should fit together—what the character of the music should be, when the music should be present, when not.  We didn’t quite know what we had until we tried the piece out on a few friends and family.  Their stunned faces confirmed what we had suspected; we had created something rich and moving.

About the artists

jd-confluenceJ.D. Scrimgeour, poetry

J.D. Scrimgeour holds a BA and MA in English from Columbia University and an MFA (in poetry) and PhD in American Literature from Indiana University. He has published a collection of poetry, The Last Miles (2005) and two books of creative nonfiction, Spin Moves (2000) and Themes For English B: A Professor’s Education In and Out of Class (2006), which won the AWP Award for Creative Nonfiction.

His poetry has appeared in magazines such as Poetry, Ploughshares, Colorado Review, River Styx, Tar River Poetry, Connecticut Review, and Diner, and it has won awards from the National Society of Arts and Letters and the Academy of American Poets. In 2008 named a finalist for a Massachusetts Cultural Council Individual Artist grant in poetry.

Scrimgeour’s nonfiction has appeared in such publications as The Boston Globe magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Creative Nonfiction, Thought & Action, and Organica. His essay, “My Outfield,” won Creative Nonfiction’s Writing about Baseball contest.

Scrimgeour has served as Coordinator of Creative Writing at Salem State College for several years. In this position, he has not only run the college’s writers’ series, but has organized several special events, including symposia on Jazz and the Arts; the Creative Process; and Writing, Class, and Education. He created and directs the Salem Poetry Seminar, a free week-long summer program for select student poets at Massachusetts public colleges and universities.

He is experienced collaborating with artists in other media to stretch the range of poetry, including performing works with photographer Kim Mimnaugh and choreographer Caitlin Corbett.

phil-confluencePhilip Swanson, music

Philip Swanson maintains a distinguished career as a trombonist, pianist, organist, composer, conductor and teacher. 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 Lyric Opera, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and numerous other orchestras and ensembles.

He is cofounder of the Thompson Brass Project, a brass chamber ensemble which features trumpet virtuoso and Eastman professor James Thompson, and performs regularly with several jazz groups including Chamber Jazz Trio and Bob Nieske’s Big Wolf Project. Mr. Swanson appears frequently in concert as a solo pianist, performing his own works as well as his improvisations on jazz standards.

Swanson has composed numerous works for instrumental and vocal ensembles, and can be heard on a wide range of recordings, including two solo piano albums of original works, an organ and trombone CD with organist Barbara Bruns, several small group jazz albums, and performances with larger ensembles, including the Boston Pops under John Williams.

Currently an Associate Professor of Music at Salem State College, Philip Swanson teaches music theory, composition, piano and trombone. He received a Doctor of Musical Arts from New England Conservatory, a Master of Music from the Eastman School, and completed his undergraduate work at Oberlin Conservatory and the University of Miami.