What Edgar Allen Poe Would Have Done
Who is your favorite author in the realm of fiction? Do you gravitate to the newbies that excel in sci-fi or the hot novelists? Not me. My choice is Edgar Allan Poe, a favorite of many who like a bit of horror and black humor. I have loved his style since my days in school. Little did I know that it would become a life-long passion. I can’t think of a better endeavor. People read far too little these days and if they do, it is some tidbit online.
I am a writer now and openly admit to his influence. It doesn’t hurt to draw upon one of the world’s greats. Why limit your work to your narrow little realm. This blog is devoted to his life and output, anything and everything I find intriguing about him that I want to share. But I am more than a reader, so don’t be surprised to encounter a retelling of my various experiences. I love being outdoors, particular in the fall. Don’t you live the smell of the dry, faded leaves and smoking wood. The air is so crisp and clear. Maybe Poe would prefer the intensity of winter, but I love autumn first and foremost.
But any time of the year is a good time to talk about Poe, a creative innovator well ahead of his era. He didn’t need modern technology to make his stories exciting and believable. I like to hark back to earlier times and put myself in his shoes. What would I invent if I had access to what we have today?
I think I would have thought of the hot water heater. I imagine its gruesome presence in a dark and dank basement, spewing forth its boiling liquid. It would be a metal menace set on destroying the structure that contains it. I envision a tank monster that kills anything that comes near. Hot broth is as good a weapon as a pen-knife, such as the evil one depicted in the story, The Black Cat. Not quite the average view of things.
It is brutal to be sure, typical of the 19th century master. The home is a site of torture, terror and murder, just like my idea of the killer hot water heater. In both stories, inanimate objects take on a dastardly life. With Poe, and me as his disciple, it is all about interesting, but threatening, imagery. Anything that can cause violence is viable. Perhaps we can look at the pen-knife and the water heater as alter-egos of the writer. Objects become symbols in imaginative writing. Poe takes the lead for me in terms of impact.
If you want to get literary with me, think of the water heater as an allegory about evil lurking in one’s midst, a danger among dangers and a harbinger of death to come to us all. I love to get gloomy when thinking of Poe as it inspires me to create something fresh and new, with a wicked bent.
Where to Read and Listen to the Works of Edgar Allan Poe
Luckily, there are a variety of websites and apps which will allow you to either read or listen to the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Sometimes it is great to curl up and read a few good Poe story’s while a storm is raging outside and sometimes it lends a certain eerie quality to listen to them being read instead. Some sites have more to offer than others and some have a fee; some do not. However, we have a few we would like to refer for free.
First, The Poe Museum, which is an actual museum that can be visited, is located in historic Richmond, Virginia. Tickets range from eight dollars for adults to six dollars for seniors and youths. Children under six years old get free admission. If you are unable to attend the museum in person, however, their website has many Poe-related resources available.
Before we talk about the website, however, we would like to touch on the museum itself. For those who can visit, it is a real historical treat. It was created over a hundred years ago by James Howard Whitty who not only was a devoted Poe fan but also wished to create the state’s first monument to a writer. The museum now enjoys a history as unique as the writer himself. In addition to bringing Poe’s vision of paradise from “To One in Paradise” to Poe’s Enchanted Garden, there is also a Shrine to Poe. One of the rooms in the museum was constructed by using a staircase which once graced one of Poe’s childhood homes. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 am until 5 pm, Sunday 11 am until 5 pm, and closed Mondays and a few holidays.
On The Poe Museum website, there is much you can do. There are several of Poe’s classic works available to read, including some of the more famous works we have already mentioned, as well as “The Fall of the House of Usher”, “The Gold Bug”, The Cask of Amontillado”, and several others. You can also check out Poe’s Timeline and even compare his to current events happening at the same time. Additionally, you can read about Poe himself, learn about his family, and even read a bibliography compiled listing possible causes of death.
The next website we would like to mention is very thorough. PoeStories.com has just about everything-Poe that you would want to read. The Welcome page gives you a rundown on what you can expect from the website. The rest contains a biography, summaries, stories, poetry, a forum, gallery, timeline, guestbook, and bookstore. Furthermore, they also have a page entitled “Links” which contains additional links with Poe’s works as well as other Poe-related sites. The site is easy to navigate and you can literally spend hours, even days, searching its depths.
Lastly, we would like to recommend a couple of ways to listen to the works of Poe. There is a free audiobook with the complete compilation of his short stories on audiobooktreasury.com. You can also get a free ebook of Poe with a trial membership of audible.com. Among other sites which provide audio and video information, Youtube is one of the best. There is quite an extensive library on Youtube which contains biographies, documentaries, specific stories read aloud by voice actors such as Christopher Lee and James Earl Jones, and other Poe-related video and audio recordings.
There is no shortage of websites or apps which provide everything-Poe you could ever want to read, watch, or listen to. Begin by checking out the sites we suggested and enjoy!
Who Was Edgar Allan Poe?
Whenever you mention Edgar Allan Poe, there’s always a few who say, “Oh, I’ve read him” or maybe even “I know his work,” but many more would probably say “Who?” Those who do remember him and his work tend to recall that a lot of it was macabre and dark. Some remember that Poe wrote both poetry and stories, while some thought he was only a poet. After all, two of his most famous works are poems, “The Raven” and “Annabel Lee.”
Depending upon one’s school curriculum and personal studies, those who know Poe have varying degrees of knowledge about him. Some may not know who he is at all. With that in mind, let us tell you who Edgar Allan Poe was. We’ll skip the boring stuff.
Poe was born on January 19, 1809, and his parents, who were both actors, died before his third birthday. Poe grew up in Richmond, Virginia as a foster child of a rich tobacco exporter, John Allan. Poe was sent to the best boarding schools where he did really well academically. He even attended the University of Virginia, albeit for only a year. By then, Poe had acquired a gambling habit and Allan refused to pay his debt. Poe had no choice but to return home.
However, his and his father’s relationship was strained, so Poe moved to Boston. There he also joined the US Army and began writing. His first poetry collection was published the same year he joined the Army. His writing was legendary. Many refer to him as the “architect” for building what we now know as the modern short story. Others say he “gave birth” to the detective story of the modern day. His writing style and structure were different; it made his work stand out. Sometimes he was dark and dreary, but then so is life.
Poe was one of the first American writers to command global recognition as a major figure in modern world literature. His imagination for storytelling and talent for horror and tales of mystery captured the interest of readers all over the world. Among his more famous pieces, in addition to those mentioned in the first paragraph, is “The Fall of the House of Usher”, “The Black Cat”, and, one of our personal favorites, “The Tell-Tale Heart.” For those who have never heard of Poe or have never read “The Tell-Tale Heart”, read it! It was written back in 1843, but it really is a literary work of art; it withstands the test of time well.
Upcoming Edgar Allan Poe Events
If you are looking for something different to do this upcoming year, we have a couple of suggestions for you. Well, one really: go to a Poe event! We have a very special one coming up this year!
Whatever name you choose to call it – The International Edgar Allan Poe Festival or Poe Fest International – is a free community event in Baltimore and it is the Poe event of the year. The festival, lasting two days, not only strives to continue Poe’s legacy but also to honor the writers of the next generation as well. For two days there will be books, art, live performances, poetry, food, and music. What more could anyone ask for? Poe Baltimore will be celebrating Poe’s influence, life, and legacy both in Baltimore and around the world.
The festival program includes The Black Cat Ball, Poe Funeral Re-enactment, and Poe House tours. In addition, the Saturday Visiter Awards are a new way to honor Poe’s legacy by awarding prizes to writing, performance, art, and/or media which was adapted or inspired by Poe’s life or works. “The Saturday Visiter” was the name (and that’s how they spelled it, too) of a local newspaper which held a poetry and short story contest. Poe, with “MS Found in a Bottle”, won the award while living in Baltimore. The awards, keeping in-stride, are named after the paper, hope to help launch another young writer’s career. The contest opens January 19, 2019, and the winners will be announced at the festival. The festival will be held this year October fifth and sixth. Again, this is a free, family-friendly event.
A few other smaller events we found are “La Pasion de Poe“, a ballet dance tribute to Poe’s life and works. This ballet is in Glen Allen, Virginia in the last of March. “Murder by Poe” is a play put on by the Actors Guild first in Parkersburg, West Virginia in September and in Fredericksburg, Virginia in October. Then “Strange City of Edgar Allan Poe” is an interactive Halloween experience based on Poe’s life, stories, and characters. This delight happens in October in Raleigh, North Carolina. Check out your local area for Poe-related events as well. Many cities have readings and “Poe parties.”
Poe in Pop Culture: The Raven
One never knows which famous or infamous person who lived long ago is going to become “relevant” again. Edgar Allan Poe has never really lost his star power, the way he has been woven into the fabric of society is somewhat amazing. Some of his work has taken on lives of their own. In a way, he has never ceased being relevant.
“The Raven” is one of the most immortal literary works ever written. Maybe it’s that haunting and slightly musical repetition of “nevermore” that most draws admirers to this particular work. Even those who generally prefer less macabre work are drawn to “The Raven” and to Poe himself. This legendary writer has definitely found his place among modern art as well. Once “The Raven” was published, Poe became a household name. However, just because the poem was published in 1845 doesn’t mean it is any less popular now.
“The Raven” has more than three and a half hundred writing credits due to all the modern day references the poem has earned. There are many more than these few here, but we wanted to show you some of our favorites. They are a diverse group of references as well. Some you may have seen and some may have passed you by. Check them out:
#1- It would only make sense to list “The Raven” movie here. In this version, John Cusack stars as Poe. The psychological crime thriller depicts a murderer who takes cues from Poe’s writing. However, even though named after one of Poe’s most famous works, the movie takes a different direction than Poe’s actual life. In addition, his death and the events leading up to it have also been fictionalized for the sake of this film.
#2- Here’s one you may have never noticed or, if you did, you may not have put it together. The Nineties band Blues Traveler won a Grammy, their first, for “Run-Around” in 1994. The first line mimics the first line of “The Raven” with part of it exactly and part in similarity. It says, Some argue that “I woke with something in my head” is just another way of saying “while I wondered, weak and weary.” Maybe it is up to interpretation, but it sounds right to us.
#3- In the Halloween-themed installment of “The Simpsons”, Lisa reads Poe’s story to Bart and Maggie, her siblings, in the “Treehouse of Horror” episode. As it plays out, Bart turns into the raven while dad Homer takes on the narrator’s role with the voice of James Earl Jones conveying his thoughts with that unmistakable voice. Marge also appears as the late Lenore in a painting. Many see it as the Simpsons take on the iconic poem with a twist – instead of the raven saying “nevermore” it, of course, says “eat my shorts.”
#4- This one a lot of you reading may never even have heard of. During the Eighties, there was a show called “The Family” which was a spinoff of an even earlier show, “Carol Burnett Show.” Anyway, “The Family” featured a high school named Edgar Allan Poe with the apt mascot being a raven. In one episode, the school’s fight song is even revealed which uses several lines from “The Raven” to get its point across.
#5- This one has probably been seen by a lot more TV enthusiasts, especially those who watch “Supernatural.” The 2007 novel “Supernatural: Nevermore” is actually the first book in the series written by Keith RA DeCandido which the dark fantasy TV show is based on. The plot of the show follows two brothers who drive around solving supernatural events, specifically murders – sometimes even their own. “Nevermore”, as well as “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Cask of Amontillado” are some of Poe’s works which inspired murders on the show.
#6- Here’s one you may or may not know: The NFL’s Baltimore Ravens are actually named in honor of the literary writer. After all, Poe is actually buried in Baltimore. The literary reference won in a voting contest by an overwhelming landslide in which over thirty thousand people participated. Currently, the team only has one costumed mascot, named Poe. However, before 2008 there were three: Poe and his two brothers, Edgar and Allan.
#7- Another TV show using Poe references was “The Following” which ran for three seasons from 2013 until 2015. The crime drama used “The Raven” throughout all three seasons as its main theme. From the very first episode, agents show up to a crime scene with “Nevermore” written on the wall in blood. The perpetrator starts a murderous cult inspired by Poe as well. An apt ending to the last episode of the last season – “Quoth the raven…Nevermore” – was the series’ final words.
#8- Did you know Poe was also quoted in “Batman”? As a matter of fact, Poe has been referenced through DC Comics numerous times. At one time there was even a character with the same name who tried taking down Batman. In 1989’s version of “Batman”, the villainous Joker, played by Jack Nicholson, quoted “Take thy beak from out my heart”, which is a line from the infamous poem “The Raven.”
Poe’s Most Famous Works
I love how “The Raven” begins. There have been many times when I would be lying awake, feeling the weight of the world, and I would think, “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary…” I often wondered what was the inspiration behind this particular poem.
“The Raven”, which was published in 1845, is now considered to be one of the greatest works of American literature ever written. It is certainly very well known. Most remember that the raven’s only word is “nevermore,” and that is generally the extent of the average person’s remembrance. This poem was written from a narrator’s point of view who is lamenting the loss of Lenore, his one and only true love. He is visited by the raven who insists “nevermore” repeatedly.
Common themes, such as death and loss, are explored by Poe in this popular poem, as they are in several other pieces of his literature.
“Annabel Lee” is a lyrical poem which also explores the themes of loss and death. It is believed that Poe wrote it in memory of his wife Virginia who had passed away just two years before. He never really seemed to recover from her loss. This is one of the poems that was written later in life as he continued to work in different styles. The poem definitely has a different sound than some of his other work. Unfortunately, Poe died two days before the poem was published in the New York Tribune.
Again, one of our favorites is Poe’s short story “The Tell-Tale Heart.” This story is about a man who is overcome with guilt after killing an old man that he had recently become obsessed with. The narrator, who insists he is not crazy, watches the old man sleep every night for a week. He would act as though nothing was amiss the next day. For whatever reason, he decides to kill the old man instead of merely watching him. Unfortunately, the old man awakes and cries out. That is when he first hears the man’s heart beating. He is terrified that someone is going to hear the old man’s heart beating because it is so loud. Now, if you want to find out what happens next, you will need to read it yourself! You might not want to read it before bed, though!