Who Was Edgar Allan Poe?

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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

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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.”