Monday, October 5, 2009

R.I.P. Edgar Allan Poe: Bicentennial Celebration in Baltimore

We'll return to our weekly review next week, but first this little tidbit of information from Sonja Patterson.

You’re standing in a group of people dressed all in black mourning someone you think you knew well. You’re waiting at the grave for the funeral procession to come up the path while pipes and drums drown out the sound of sobs around you. The casket arrives, under police escort, in a horse drawn carriage.

Who lies there? Edgar Allan Poe, 1809 – 1849. It may be a little late to pay your respects, but better late than never.

When Edgar Allan Poe died on October 7, 1849 in Baltimore, Maryland at the age 40, he did not get the send off of a literary great. In fact, he was buried in an unmarked grave and only four people attended his funeral. A proper headstone was not erected until 1875.

Since 1949 the famous “Poe Toaster” has been the most dedicated visitor to his grave at West Minster Hall leaving a half bottle of cognac and three roses at dawn on the day of his birth. Baltimore took note and is following the unknown stranger’s lead.

Baltimore invites you to celebrate the Edgar Allan Poe Bicentennial from October 7th to 11th, including a viewing of Poe’s body at the Poe House and Museum on October 7th, an all night vigil at Westminster Hall on October 8th, and Poe’s Funeral on October 11th. For more information, click here:

Poe was a tormented alcoholic who wrote about love and death. “Annabel Lee” was his last poem before his tragic end. To read it, click here: In life, Annabel Lee was loved by her husband (the narrator); in death, she was worshiped by him.

Likewise, Poe is worshiped now more than ever. Like many writers, he did not meet critical acclaim until after his death. He was embraced by French and English authors, helped by Charles Baudelaire’s translations into French. Poe helped to create entire genres such as science fiction and the detective story, and has inspired countless artists, writers, and filmmakers.

This time, speakers at his funeral include Arthur Conan Doyle, the author and creator of Sherlock Holmes; Alfred Hitchcock, the legendary film director; H.P. Lovecraft, the author of weird tales and pulp fiction, and many more. Most events are free and open to the public. Tickets to the funeral are $35 in advance and $40 at the door.

While in Baltimore, raise your glass at the place where Poe had his last drink before his death, The Horse You Came In On Saloon. Rumor has it his ghost haunts the place.

If you can’t make it to Baltimore, celebrate in your own way. While it may sound odd to celebrate Poe’s death, it’s suited for the master of the morbid. May he rest in peace.

Sonja Patterson is on staff at The Writer’s Center. Her poetry has appeared in the Faquier Poetry Journal.

1 comment:

Victoria D. said...

Thanks for this info. Poe is one of the only writers whose work still gives me the chills. I remember reading his stuff as a kid and then being afraid to go to sleep. Job well done Poe. Job well done.