Museum News


Poe Museum 2013 Poetry Contest Winners


Thank you to everyone who submitted to our poetry contest last month, held in honor of National Poetry Month. We received some great poems from all over the world. The following three poems were chosen by our editorial staff for first, second, and third place.

First Place

“Family Portrait”

By Ryan McLellan

Your bonnet rots and my time piece stopped a long

time ago.  We became a faded image on a mantel.

My father posed like his father before him, a stone

expression and thumbs in his belt loops.  His wife –

not my mother – stood still and did not speak.  My

uncle twisted his mustache like a man hatching some

sinister plot.  You must have been so uncomfortable

in that corset, bound, while the men wore the billowy

suits and smoked the cigars.  How many of these

dreadful photographs did you have to pose for?  I

can’t see through the sepia anymore; cataracts are

brown and grey.  A group-shot taken the last time we

got together; a funeral.  We all die young in this family.

We look away from the lens like we can’t be bothered

with beauty yet we all put a hand on our hips, puff

up our chests and stand still when told to do so.  We

died in these frames, lived out our last days under

dust in forgotten parlors but we knew we could be

immortal if we struck the right pose.

About the Author

Ryan McLellan is a teacher, singer/songwriter, nationally touring poet, Buffler fellow and editor from Waltham, Massachusetts.  The author of five collections of poetry and the spoken-word album Last-Second Changes to the Set List, his work has been published widely in journals such as The Subterranean Quarterly, The November 3rd Club, Lower East Side Review, Bird’s Eye reView, Concise Delight, Cosmopolitan Review, OVS Magazine as well as the anthologies Chopin with Cherries: A Tribute in Verse and the2010 Poets’ Guide to New Hampshire.  He is the only three-time recipient of the Esther Buffler Poetry-In-Schools Fellowship from the Portsmouth (NH) Poet Laureate Program and has presented workshops around the country to a wide range of audiences.  He is a semi-finalist and four year veteran at the National Poetry Slam and his full-length collection, Plenty of Blood to Spare, was published by Sargent Press in 2012.  He lives in Portland, Maine and teaches in Dover, New Hampshire.

Second Place

“RVA Storm’s A Brewing”

by Gonjoe Winn

Richmond billows and blows wild wind vines

thru the thousand tiny pebble pressed streets

striped light with three inch thick white lines,

pedestrian hair flocks frantic

like dune reeds in a winter storm—

skirts flirt towards ladies’ noses—

traffic lights sway like strung up strawberries,

autos rush to hurry and bury their heads

fearing hail’s icy knuckles on their skin,

the milk stout James undulates ripples

racing like microscopic sailboats over his face

wrecking carefree into the feeble red clay banks,

gnats grow cross-eyed in the polarizing wind

seeking shelter within the friendly fur of homeless necks

and short-haired K-9’s with flaccid tails

tucking their snouts close to their handler’s crotch,

brief doses of silence hang like empty nooses

waiting for innocent water to become criminally heavy,

my grave eyes sketch the palm reading sky

prying into the beech wood woolen clouds

crying aloud to sidewalk strollers

lightening will rain and thunder will roll over

screaming blaze honey cream droplets

down and set to drown day into night’s arms.

About the Author

Gonjoe Winn works as a Professional School Counselor in Chesterfield County, and is an alum of James Madison University and Virginia Commonwealth University. Gonjoe plays harmonica in a Richmond-area band called “The Approach” (http://theapproachrva.bandcamp.com/) and is always up for an adventure.

Third Place

“For Company”

By C. L. Clickard

At midnight in Maison la Creep
I wakened from a fitful sleep
to find an incorporeal guest
hovering near the cedar chest.

She dressed quite nicely for a ghost.
Her shroud was daintier than most,
and where her dented skull might show
the ectoplasm formed a bow.

And if you didn’t mind the gore
she smeared across the parquet floor,
she wasn’t half bad company.
I asked her back for Sunday tea

Next evening I was reading late
a stack of crumpets on my plate
when from the painting o’er my bed
emerged a spectre, minus head.

The portrait’s visage he’d have matched
if his head was still attached .
So since one should not snub one’s host
 I offered up my buttered toast

But he had business dark and dire
and could not linger by my fire.
Still, as he must return by dawn
I offered breakfast on the lawn.

The third night dozing in my chair
a skull came floating in mid air.
I wondered if the cranium might
belong to he from yester night.

But thinking such a question rude
and being in a quiet mood
we sat in friendly contemplation
of the fireplace conflagration.

And ‘ere he floated out at dawn
I asked him to return anon.
Such  peaceful camaraderie
is quite a scarce commodity.

On Thursday night I could not doze
so wand’ring through the hedge maze rows,
I chanced upon a spectral choir
chanting quatrains bleak and dire.

Politely I restrained the urge
to don a robe and join their dirge
And when they stilled, inquired their rate,
then booked them for the vicar’s fete.
Twas Friday when an apparition

dragged me from my deep dormition
and led me to a loathsome crypt
where shadows swirled and ichor dripped.

It raised a black and withered claw
The ghoul’s intent  I clearly saw,
and rapped upon that marbled door
with a jolly, “Drinks? -- at four?”

And though no answ’ring voice I heard
from guiding ghoul or the interred,
I felt my terms had been accepted
and company should be expected.

So I retired once more to bed
awaiting visitations dread
and when, at last, the hour tolled four
a noxious smoke roiled from the floor.

I watched as spectral shape congealed
complete with axe and blood drenched shield
Twas Comte la Creep, knight dire and dark
my bloodline’s thrice-cursed patriarch!

I took the axe his hands were gripping
“Pardon, sir, it seems you’re dripping.”
and  proffered snifter, pipe and chair.
His howl of outrage rent the air:

“Ere since my unshrived inhumation,
I’ve terrorized each blood relation
who dared reside here e’en one night!
Yet you…. unwholesome, twisted wight…

Have you no nerves? No fear? No dread?
No terror of the vile undead?”
I shook my head and offered up
a steaming jasmine tea-filled cup.

“Enough!”  he shrieked.
“I’ll not be taunted
with the shame of being wanted.”
He snatched his blade from off my bed
and clean divorced me from my head.

Ashamed of my ungainly pose
I rose, at least from neck to toes,
and hoisted severed head to see:
the painting now resembled me!

“Be cursed to haunt these halls alone
until this insult you atone.”
Thus with that shout, his anger sated
the Comte la Creep disintegrated.

Appalled, I swept through hall and tomb
each echoing, unspectered room,
and found my ghostly infestation
had dwindled to one pale relation.

And thus I linger, mortified,
until, within these halls, has died
some unsuspecting Creep relation --
who’ll come to join my ululation!

So should these wailings 'round your bed
loose your grasp on life’s thin thread,
pardon my effrontery --
‘tis only done for company.

About the Author

C L Clickard is an internationally published author, poet and puzzle-maker. Her latest book Victricia Malicia,
released from Flashlight Press in 2012. Her next book, Magic for Sale, releases from Holiday House in 2014.
Her work has appeared in Underneath the Juniper Tree, Spellbound, and Crow Toes Quarterly.
You can find out more about Carrie and her work at www.clclickard.com.



Spring 2013 Issue of Evermore Now Online


Get all the latest Poe Museum news with the Spring 2013 issue of our newsletter Evermore. This issue features updates on new acquisitions, upcoming events, and the Poe Museum kittens. spring2013newsletter




Today Marks Edgar Poe’s 177th Wedding Anniversary


The bride, Virginia Clemm, in a drawing by A.G. Learned

On May 16, 1836, Edgar Allan Poe and his young fiancée Virginia Clemm were joined by a few close friends for a small wedding ceremony at a home near Capitol Square. According to different sources, the event took place at either Mrs. Yarrington’s boarding house at Eleventh and Bank Streets or the home of Amasa Converse at Eighth and Franklin Streets. The guests included Virginia’s mother and Poe’s aunt Maria Poe Clemm, Poe’s boss at the Southern Literary Messenger Thomas White, White’s daughter Eliza, a pressman named Thomas W. Cleland and his wife, the printer of the Messenger William McFarlane, an apprentice in the Messenger office named John W. Fergusson, the owner of the boarding house in which Poe lived Mrs. James Yarrington, one of Virginia’s friends Jane Foster, and a few others.

William MacFarlance, one of Poe's wedding guests

In addition to the number of guests associated with the Southern Literary Messenger, another magazine writer, Rev. Amasa Converse, performed the ceremony. In addition to editing the Southern Religious Telegraph, Converse was a Presbyterian minister. He later recalled Poe’s bride as “polished, dignified and agreeable in her bearing… [possessing] a pleasing manner but…very young.” Of course, Virginia was half the age of her twenty-seven year-old groom, but Converse noted she had given “her consent freely.” Unfortunately, her father’s death a few years earlier had prevented him from giving her his permission to marry, so, earlier on his wedding day, Poe had signed a marriage bond verifying Virginia was twenty-one and able to marry without her father’s consent. Cleland co-signed the document.

Rev. Amasa Converse, who performed Poe's wedding ceremony

In a 1904 letter to T. Pendleton Cummings, Rev. Converse’s son F.B. Converse wrote that Poe “was married by my father…in my father’s parlor…at the Southeast corner of Main and Eighth Streets, Richmond…Edgar Allan Poe came to the house, and the wedding was performed in the parlor, my father standing, according to the impressions which I have received, near the mantel piece and Edgar Allan Poe and his bride coming in at the front. There were very few persons present at the wedding, my mother and the members of the family, and perhaps one or two more companions, which they brought with them.”

John Fergusson, another of Poe's wedding guests

Poe collector James H. Whitty later interviewed Jane Foster about the wedding, and he reported, “Mrs. Jane [Foster] Stocking was present at the wedding, which took place in the parlor of the Yarrington home, where Poe boarded, Mrs. Stocking, then but a slip of a girl, was full of thrills with thoughts of seeing so young a girl, like her own self, getting married; and also like Virginia, she was so little, that she found her best view of the ceremony was from the hallway door, where she obtained a reflection of the entire scene through a large old-fashioned mirror, which tilted forward a bit from over the mantle. All the boarders of the home, and all the poet’s friends, including Mr. Thomas W. White and his daughter Eliza, were present. Virginia was attired in a new traveling dress, and…hat. After the ceremony and congratulations the newly wedded entered a hack, waiting on the outside, and went to a train for Petersburg, Va., where they spent their honeymoon…Mrs. Stocking at the time of the wedding was both young and shy, and on the occasion she said, that she could only look, and look about in bewilderment — for in that short ceremony of a few minutes she was picturing her little companion of the day before suddenly transported into matured womanhood; like in the fairy tales, she was wondering why Virginia didn’t grow taller and look different, à la Cinderella; that’s what bothered little Jane Foster the most; but Virginia looked natural, and never changed an iota.”
After the ceremony, the guests ate wedding cake baked by Mrs. Clemm. Then some of the guests accompanied the newlyweds to the train station where they boarded a train to their honeymoon at the home of magazine editor Hiram Haines in Petersburg.

Possible site of Poe's wedding, Mrs. Yarrington's boarding house on Bank Street

A few days later, on May 20, the Richmond Whig reported, “Married, on Monday May 16th, by the Reverend Mr. Converse, Mr. Edgar A. Poe to Miss Virginia Clemm.” Other papers in Richmond and Norfolk carried similar announcements.

Hiram Haines House, where Poe stayed on his honeymoon

Contemporary accounts attest that Poe was a devoted husband to his adoring wife. Their friend, the poet Frances Osgood, wrote, “Of the charming love and confidence that existed between his wife and himself, always delightfully apparent to me, in spite of the many little poetical episodes, in which the impassioned romance of his temperament impelled him to indulge; of this I cannot speak too earnestly — too warmly. I believe she was the only woman whom he ever truly loved.”

Poe and his wife would be married for eleven years before Virginia succumbed to tuberculosis at the age of twenty-four. Poe followed her just two years later. Though both died in different cities, their remains were reunited over thirty years later, and they are now buried together in Westminster Burying Grounds in Baltimore.

Today marks the 177th anniversary of Poe’s wedding, and it seems appropriate to conclude this post with Poe’s poem “Eulalie,” a tribute to the joys of married life:

EULALIE — A SONG.

I DWELT alone
In a world of moan,
And my soul was a stagnant tide,
Till the fair and gentle Eulalie became my blushing bride —
Till the yellow-haired young Eulalie became my smiling bride.

Ah, less — less bright
The stars of the night
Than the eyes of the radiant girl!
And never a flake
That the vapor can make
With the moon-tints of purple and pearl,
Can vie with the modest Eulalie’s most unregarded curl —
Can compare with the bright-eyed Eulalie’s most humble and careless curl.

Now Doubt — now Pain
Come never again,
For her soul gives me sigh for sigh,
And all day long
Shines, bright and strong,
Astarté within the sky,
While ever to her dear Eulalie upturns her matron eye —
While ever to her young Eulalie upturns her violet eye.

If you are interested in learning more about Poe’s marriage, visit the Poe Museum to see a display of artifacts owned by Virginia Clemm Poe. You can also learn more about Poe’s honeymoon in Petersburg at the May 23 Unhappy Hour when Jeffrey Abugel, author of Edgar Allan Poe’s Petersburg, will be here for a book signing.




“Poe in Paris” Exhibit Explores Poe’s International Influence


The Poe Museum is proud to announce its upcoming exhibit “Poe in Paris,” which runs from June 23 until September 8, 2013 at the Poe Museum at 1914 East Main Street, Richmond, Virginia. Drawing on rare artwork and documents from the Poe Museum and four other collections, the exhibit will explore Poe’s influence on French avant garde artists and writers of the nineteenth century. On Saturday, June 22 from 5 to 9 P.M. the Poe Museum will host a special preview opening and wine pairing for which tickets can be purchased at the museum or at poemuseum.org for $25 in advance or $30 at the door.

About Poe in Paris:

The progressive cultural climate of nineteenth century Paris gave birth to artistic movements like Impressionism, Symbolism, Post-Impressionism, and Fauvism. The writers and artists active there pioneered the concepts which would soon give birth to modern art and literature. One of the most important and influential figures in this incubator of innovative ideas never even visited Paris, but his name was on the lips of almost every member of the city’s avant garde. His works were discussed and imitated by the leading authors and illustrated by the most innovative artists. Though Edgar Allan Poe never saw Paris, some of his most important works were inspired by the city and, in turn, inspired Paris’s leading artists and writers including the painters Edouard Manet and Paul Gauguin and the writers Charles Baudelaire and Jules Verne.

Since most Americans only know Poe for a few of his horror stories, which comprise only a small fraction of his oeuvre, it is easy to forget that Richmond’s greatest writer was also America’s first internationally influential author. After his early death in 1849 and the dismissal of his works by some American critics, it was the Europeans—especially the French—who cultivated an appreciation of Poe’s revolutionary contributions to world literature and aesthetics. Poe and his followers promoted concepts like “Art for Art’s Sake” and “Pure Poetry” which turned the art world upside-down and ushered in the age of Modernism. It should be no wonder that Edouard Manet produced three portraits of him and provided illustrations for a French edition of “The Raven” translated by avant garde French poet Stephan Mallarme. Symbolist painter Paul Gauguin and Fauvist Henri Matisse were among the many French artists to produce Poe-inspired works. Considered the Father of Science Fiction, Jules Verne was inspired by Poe’s science fiction stories and even wrote a sequel to one of Poe’s novels.

The Poe Museum’s intriguing exhibit will feature Poe-inspired artwork by Edouard Manet, Henri Matisse, and more in addition to rare early French translations of Poe’s works by Charles Baudelaire, Stephan Mallarme, and others. Assembled from the Poe Museum’s collection as well as from four other public and private collections, the exhibit will explore Poe’s presence in Parisian culture at the time Modern Art was born.

“Poe in Paris” will run from June 23 until September 8, 2013 with a special preview evening and wine pairing to be held on Saturday, June 22 from 5 to 9 P.M. The exhibit is included in the cost of Poe Museum general admission, but tickets for the preview evening and wine pairing can be purchased at the Poe Museum or on its website for $25 in advance or $30 at the door.