Parlor salon

Spreading the words in Salem
By NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  July 16, 2008

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In 2001, Adam and Jennifer Pieroni started a literary magazine out of their Jamaica Plain apartment called Quick Fiction, devoted to stories of 500 words or fewer. They were ahead of the curve, anticipating the upswing in popularity of the short-short form (dozens of lit-mags specializing in it now exist). Now the pair of 29 year olds is embarking on another fill-the-need project. After they married, they moved up to Salem and began the process of starting a North Shore–based independent writing center called the Parlor.

“We’re both creative people and can’t sit still,” says Adam over the phone from Salem, explaining how the couple hatched the idea for the Parlor last July. “We were sitting having lunch and it struck us that it’d be the perfect thing to do for the area that we’re in. Salem and the North Shore don’t have a writing center, a place where writers could meet and learn and feel like they’re part of a community.” Boston has nonprofit writing organization Grub Street, Adam notes, but it’s a hike to get to and fro.

The Pieronis distributed a survey in bookstores throughout the North Shore and online assessing the public’s interest. The response was strong and they moved ahead, lining up their first few “kick-start” classes (one-off nonfiction and screenwriting seminars in late July and early August, both for free), manuscript speed-dating (in which people submit their work and get 30 minutes of feedback from an editor), and the Parlor’s debut event, which takes place this Saturday: the Creative Connection (the first of a series of reading discussions) with author — and Salem native — Hannah Tinti. Co-founder and editor of One Story magazine and author of the acclaimed short-story collection Animal Crackers, Tinti will begin the book tour for her new novel, The Good Thief (Dial Press), at Saturday afternoon’s discussion.

“Once we found out she grew up here,” says Adam, “we thought it was the perfect thing.” And Saturday’s event is the first in what should be a potent set of classes and events. “We have big plans for this place,” says Adam.

The Creative Connection with Hannah Tinti takes place on July 19, at 2:30 pm, at the Salem Athenaeum, 337 Essex Street, in Salem. Visit the-parlor.org.

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