Thursday, January 19, 2012

Alas, I am not done! We shan't forget Poe!

For today would have been his birthday as well....He would have been a very young 203 years old. For many many years he has had an admirer, someone who leaves roses at his grave for his birthday but this year the great people of Baltimore, Maryland may be holding a vigil of their own for this strange visitor as, for the second year in a row, he/she/it has not shown up. With that in mind, of course I had to do a post. My great Poe has already lost one who kept this date. We could not let him pass this birthday, wherever he may be now (probably hanging with Janis instead of reincarnating as they both should) without giving him love on this, the date of his birth. His was a complicated life, sometimes filled with pain, and that pain along with his brilliance later combined on the page to make him a writer with talent that so many of us since have all but worshiped, his ability to suck one in to his world whether it be one of grief over love lost too soon or one of sinister disease lurking among its intended prey unrivaled by none. At least, not in my opinion. I wear a necklace of his likeness around my neck to remind me to write even when I don't want to and to give it all I have because if I don't, there is no point. I have a beautiful print of The Raven sitting at my side to remind me that even in darkness, there is light and beauty and it is that which belongs on the page. He is one of those writers that I will never get too much of and I am proud to say that I've loved him almost as long as I could read.
My friend Cassie and I were both obsessed with him rather early on. And so, being innovative by nature, we devised a plan. Neither of us could afford little pocket editions of BOTH The Raven and the Black Cat yet we had heard that each was great. So she bought one, I bought the other, and we switched off constantly reading them over and over. (I wonder if she remembers that. I'll have to ask her....) That was my first real taste of Poe's work and I couldn't get enough. I remember, I was in fourth grade then and I was in Mr. Topping's Poetry Club. The next Friday when we met I had in my hand a poem I wrote called The Kiss of Death which was, of course, inspired by my week spent with The Raven. A bit morbid for ten? Perhaps. Thankfully nothing I wrote, even then, seemed to surprise Mr. T. After that it was to the library I went, first the public and then, when we got a cool grown up library at the Middle School, the school library at Everts. The only nice thing I can say about my time there is that their library kicked ass to a bookwormish 6th grader, I loved the time I spent in it, and it was stocked with the best of Poe. 
Now, around this time I had my first real fight with depression. Life wasn't going too great and, being between the ages of 10 and 12, I had not developed any techniques for really dealing with that. So I sank into these worlds, these tales that Edgar wove and I let them bring me comfort or, at least, take me away for a little while. Because he could always be counted on for that. He turned even the deepest sorrow into beauty and maybe somehow I internalized that concept without realizing it...or maybe all of us who create use the greatest pains in our lives to fuel it. At least then you haven't suffered in vain. And Poe certainly did not because here we are, two centuries later, with millions still reading his work, millions who know his name and have stories just as I have a story of that first time they read what he had to say. So, wherever his admirer has gone (and if it is possible, I hope next year there is a return made) we still love him. Right? Right.
Happy birthday, E.A.P. ! May you know all the joy in death that you rarely got from life and may you be in a place where you can see that so many of us still need what you gave even if you are long past having use for it. 

Happy Birthday Edgar Allan Poe!

Happy Birthday Edgar Allan Poe!Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809, in Boston, Massachusetts, to traveling actors David Poe and Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins.
Separated from his older brother, William Henry, and younger sister, Rosalie, following their parents’ deaths, Edgar went to live with wealthy tobacco merchant, John Allan, and his wife, Frances Valentine Allan, inRichmond,Virginia.  Although John planned for Edgar to pursue a career in business, Poe desired to follow in the footsteps of his childhood hero, British poet Lord Byron.  Prolific as his literary efforts were, Poe was dissuaded from publishing by his boarding school headmaster, even with enough poetry to fill a book by the age of thirteen.
Poe led a complicated life as a young man, experiencing one hardship after another.  Attending the University of Virginia in 1826, he was forced to leave due to gambling debts acquired while trying to sustain himself, since John Allan had given Poe only a fraction of the stipend necessary to live.  Returning home, Poe’s fiancĂ©, Elmira Royster, had become engaged to another during Poe’s time away at school.  The combined stress from Allan and Royster compelled Poe to seek out a new life, resulting in enlistment in the U.S. Army, and later at West PointAcademyafter making amends with Allan.  During this time, Poe published his first book, Tamerlane, as well as a collection of poetry.
As many classic works were published (“The Raven” in 1845) and Poe gained notoriety, he sought more payment as lecture crowds increased.  An advocate of author’s wages and international copyright law, Poe attempted to establish his own literary journal, but was unable to acquire the financing. 
His health deteriorated in the late 1840s, and Poe was hospitalized after being found in a bar room.  He died on October 7, 1849, at forty from an undetermined cause of death. 
Seeking revenge for a scathing review by Poe, author Rufus Griswold wrote a defamatory obituary of him, followed by an unflattering biography filled with exaggerations of drinking and womanizing.  Griswold’s attempts misfired, prompting the public to seek out Poe’s work in droves.
The dark and melancholic aura associated with Poe was more the mystique created by his rivals.  Poe may have been a man presumed to have lived a licentious lifestyle, but any darkness attributed to him was committed to his work.  The man himself appears nobler than credited, and sought refuge in his talents, becoming the literary giant he is known as today.
And I am sorry but I think this is fucking great and what's more...I bet he would have agreed!:

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