One of many popular Lyceum programs: Gloucester Reads Poetry


The words on an exterior wall of the library read: Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library.  They both identify the building and give some sense of one aspect of what goes on inside.  The Lyceum tradition in New England can be traced back to the 19th century, when scholars and philosophers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau supported the notion of popular education, and enjoyment, that were provided by public programs. The Lyceum, as the program arm of the Library, is an inheritor of this tradition.  The committee has a broad charge, described in our mission statement as “enriching the lives of the people of Cape Ann.”

The Committee meets at the Sawyer Free Library on the first Monday of every month.  Members are Carol Ackerman, Barbara Braver, Jill Carter, Tom Halsted, Susan Oleksiw, Christy Park, Bob Quinn, Patsy Whitlock, Mary Weissblum and the Library Director, Carol Gray.

Included below, to give some sense of our efforts, is a listing of some Lyceum offerings of the past year.

Volunteer readers took part in a marathon reading of Captains Courageous in collaboration with SeArts.

Marian Frost, a local Gloucester photographer, shared her photos and something of the process of publishing her book.

Chris Leahy, an intrepid traveler and also an accomplished ornithologist, spoke of his adventures in Mongolia

We were treated to sensitive portraits of children by Rodrigo Gutierrez, a Chilean photographer, who shared his collection entitled Beauty Will Save the World.

Jay DiPrima brought life to the words of Henry David Thoreau through his recreation of the lecture Thoreau once gave in Gloucester.

Steven Puleo spoke about his book A City So Grand – namely Boston.
Ken Hruby, through his vivid recounting, took our audiences to China and to the Krueger National Park in Africa.
Rosemary Herbert spoke about her book, Front Page Teaser, which is set in greater Boston.
We sponsored once again the popular program Gloucester Reads Poetry, moderated by Gloucester’s poet laureate, Rufus Collinson, which gives members of the community the opportunity to read a favorite poem and share their reasons for being drawn to it.
Our annual poetry writing contest, Poetry without Paper, gave encouragement – as well as prizes – to students who live in Gloucester for the winning poems which they submitted electronically.

Mike Lafferty, through an amazing array of photos, brought us up close to a great variety of birds in their habitats.  And, also in the ornithological department, we were treated one evening to a program on the careful work of bird banding.  

We continue to plan and to percolate programs for the future, including an author’s series which begins this autumn with Andre Dubus and Simon Winchester, and a special musical Valentine’s Day program which will feature a romantic musical evening with Lynne Jackson and Michael Palter, the internationally acclaimed jazz/cabaret duo.

This has been a rich year for the Lyceum, in terms of the quality of the programs we have been able to offer, and the apparent appreciation by our various audiences.  We are grateful for the opportunity to serve the Library, and the community, and pleased that our offerings have been well received.  Please contact us with any thoughts for future programs.  We welcome your ideas, and your participation.

Respectfully submitted,

Mary Weissblum
Chair of the Lyceum Committee