Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Heads Up, Poe Fans!

In case you didn't know (or remember), Monday, January 19, 2009, is Edgar Allan Poe's 200th birthday and there are all sorts of things going on; in fact, so many there's even a blog (The Edgar Allan Poe Bicentennial--Celebrating 200 Years of Poe's Life and Work) to keep track of them. Why, even the oft-stodgy USPS is getting in on the act by issuing a very nice-looking commemorative stamp!

I assume the Poe Toaster will be out and about in Baltimore and I'd love to be there for his appearance, but I'm going to settle for something more local-- the 24-Hr. Birthday Bash at the Poe Museum* here in Richmond:

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond will host a 24-hour birthday party for Edgar in his bicentennial year. On January 19th, 2009 the Poe Museum will open at 12:01 a.m. and remain open for 24 hours. Enjoy poetry readings during the day, tour the Museum in the dead of night, or join us for birthday cake and a candle-light vigil at Poe's shrine at dusk. There will be something for everyone during the 24-hour celebration. Specific times for each event are TBA but updates will be posted to this site on a regular basis.

And for the naysayers? Those who don't (or can't) understand what all the fuss is about? Well, author Nick Mamatas has something to say about that:

How can we read Poe today? (**) Even those who heroically managed to resist schooling well enough to find pleasure in reading have to search through two centuries of baggage to find the real Poe. He is everywhere — on The Simpsons and The Gilmore Girls, in the National Football League, and if the industry gossip is true, in a script by Sylvester Stallone which the actor is also planning to direct. "Nevermore!" isn't a coda — it's a punchline. Then there are the well-known facts of his life, and the dubious results of biocriticism. Every pale girl is Poe's wife, or his young mother who died when the author was a child. Every fever is delirium tremens or rabies, just like Ms. C Kelly suggested. Poe also left us without unforgettable, well-rendered characters of the sort readers of contemporary realism have been trained to see as the apex of quality literature. What we are left with is what we've always had: the power of the Gothic.

--"Poe at 200"

*1914-16 E. Main St.
Richmond, VA 23223

**Punchline: "But we should read Poe for the sheer bloody-minded pleasure of knowing the truth: Some motherfuckers just have it comin'."

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