Anyone can celebrate a birthday, but the Poe Museum also celebrates a death day. On October 3, 2013, the Poe Museum in Richmond will observe the anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s death (October 7, 1849), with a tribute from Elmira Shelton, the woman to whom Poe was engaged when he died. Debbie Phillips, who has also performed for the museum as Poe’s mother Eliza Poe, returns for a historical interpretation based on years of research into Poe’s last love. After the performance, “Elmira” will stay to mingle with guests. Tours of the museum will explore the themes of death and mourning in Poe’s time. The event will last from 6P.M. until 9 P.M. Refreshments will be available.
After a break for the summer, the Poe Museum’s popular monthly event series, the Unhappy Hour, returns Thursday, September 26 from six to nine for an evening of live music, fine food and drink, and the closing of the museum’s special exhibit Poe in Paris. The theme for the night is “The Fall of the House of Usher,” so we will be screening a short film inspired by the story. The music will be provided by Margot MacDonald, and, in honor of the Poe in Paris exhibit, food will be provided courtesy of La Parisienne Bistro and Café. The event will take place in the Poe Museum’s legendary Enchanted Garden. Admission is by five dollar optional donation, and a cash bar will be available. For more information, contact the Poe Museum at 888-21-EAPOE or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fine French Food Courtesy of:
Do you love a good book? Do you want to help a new generation of readers share your love of literature? Here’s something you can do about it:
For the next day and a half the Poe Museum will be competing in the Amazing Raise, a 36-hour challenge in which Central Virginia non-profits try to see how many donations they can collect between 6 A.M. on September 18 and 6 P.M. on September 19. And you can help. Your donation of $50 or more helps the Poe Museum compete for thousands of dollars in bonus prizes, so even a small gift can make a big difference.
Why support the Poe Museum? First, you will be entered in a drawing for a chance to win a print of one of Abigail Larson’s fantastic Poe illustrations from our gift shop. Second, your donation will help the Poe Museum foster a love or reading and writing in future generations. For over ninety years the Poe Museum has been an invaluable resource to teachers and students around the globe. Through our educational programs, website, and educator information packet, we support teachers in their efforts to both educate and inspire their students.
What will we do with your gift? Fifty dollars pays for enough tour guides to give a guided tour for one hundred students. One hundred dollars buys the latest books for our ever expanding reference library. Two hundred dollars pays for us to have more Educator Information Packets printed. Five hundred dollars pays for plaster repair for one of our exhibit galleries. One thousand dollars helps conserve a small painting. Five thousand dollars buys a new heat pump for one of our buildings. Eight thousand dollars pays the expenses associated with our annual Edgar Allan Poe Young Writers’ Conference.
If you believe in the work the Poe Museum is doing, please consider making a donation today using this form. If you are reaching this page after the competition has ended, you can still contribute to the Poe Museum here.
On October 5 at 1 P.M., the Poe Museum will receive the largest gift in its history, a house. The house just happens to be the oldest in Richmond, the Old Stone House. Though we are not exactly certain when it was built, dendrochronology (testing of the tree rings in wood) dates the floorboards to 1754. For over ninety years, the Poe Museum has occupied the house, which remains the property of Preservation Virginia, formerly known as the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, while the other three buildings in the Poe Museum complex belong to the Poe Foundation.
The history of the Old Stone House is a colorful one. From the 1740s until 1911, the property was owned by the Ege family, who were among the first residents of the city. In 1781, one of the residents, Elizabeth Ege Welsh, supposedly saw Benedict Arnold invade and set fire to Richmond from the house. By the 1840s, the house appears in guide books for visitors to the city. Around 1881, the house was rented to R. L. Potter, “The Wheelbarrow Man,” who used it to exhibit an assortment of unusual objects he had collected while pushing a wheelbarrow from New York to California and back. One account says he even displayed a live bear in one of the rooms. In 1894, the house was known as Washington’s Headquarters Antiquarium and Relic Museum, which published a guide book to perpetuate some tall tales about how the house had been built by Powhatan, used as a courthouse by Patrick Henry, and used as George Washington’s headquarters during the American Revolution (though Washington never actually set foot in the city during that war). Some old postcards show the house with a large “Washington’s Headquarters” sign hanging next to the front door.
In 1913, the Ege family lost the property, and Granville Valentine purchased the building to save it from destruction. Valentine, in turn, donated it to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, who tried to find someone to rent it. A renter who had intended to use it as an antique store left because the property was being vandalized. Then Archer Jones, owner of the Duplex Envelope Company, approached the APVA with the idea of using the house as a museum of Colonial history. Jones and his wife soon met the Poe collector James Whitty, who wanted to reconstruct the recently demolished office of the Southern Literary Messenger in the junk yard behind the house. In 1921, that idea evolved into using the Messenger bricks and granite to make a Poe Memorial garden in the yard and using the locks, lumber, and hinges from the Messenger building to restore the Old Stone House. The House was then furnished with furniture from Richmond buildings in which Poe lived or worked. In the early years, the APVA charged the Poe Foundation rent for the property, but it eventually allowed the museum to use the house rent-free.
Ninety-one years after the Poe Museum opened, the Old Stone House is still visited by guests from around the world, and the exterior of the house remains virtually unchanged from its appearance recorded in nineteenth century photos. Thanks to Preservation Virginia, this beautiful remnant of Richmond’s Colonial past will finally become a true part of the Poe Museum. The museum has no plans for changes to the structure, which will be protected from significant alterations by an easement with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
To learn more about the Old Stone House, please visit the Poe Museum or read the forthcoming book about the house by Rosemarie Mitchell.
Most the Poe Museum’s holdings never go on display. In addition to its museum collection of Edgar Allan Poe artifacts and memorabilia, the Poe Museum also holds an extensive group of objects in its reference library. This study collection features thousands of books, articles, videos, and audio recordings exploring Poe’s life and influence. Accessible by appointment, the reference library is a rich source of information compiled over the past nine decades for the benefit of students and researchers. As would be expected, the collection contains several volumes of scholarly works of biography and criticism, but there are also numerous photographs, drawings, and prints of Poe, the people he knew, and the places he lived, worked, and visited. There are also manuscripts, letters, illustrations, advertisements, facsimiles, and rare documents.
While the Poe Museum’s library is a great place to look for scholarly works and materials on Poe and his oeuvre, it also documents the evolution of other authors’ and artists’ responses to Poe. That is why one will find several works of fiction inspired by Poe here. These vary from novels featuring Poe as a character (like The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard and An Unpardonable Crime by Andrew Taylor) to ones with Poe-inspired elements (like Kelly Creagh’s teen romance Nevermore and Linda Fairstein’s mystery thriller Entombed). There are even historical novels focusing on Poe’s life. Among these are John May’s Poe and Fanny and Barbara Moore’s The Fever Called Living.
Other novels focus on the lives of those he knew. Harriet Davis’s Elmira tells the story of Poe’s first fiancée Elmira Royster Shelton while Lenore Hart’s The Raven’s Bride gives Poe’s wife’s perspective. Poe’s mysterious death is the subject of novels including Matthew Pearl’s The Poe Shadow and Frank Lovelock’s Lenore. The Poe Museum is featured in the short story “Murder at the Poe Shrine” by Nedra Tyre. Obsessive Poe collecting is the theme of Robert Bloch’s “The Man who Collected Poe.” Poe has inspired other authors to write sequels to his works. In 1897, Jules Verne wrote The Sphinx of the Ice Fields (also known as An Antarctic Mystery) as a sequel to Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. More recently, Clive Barker wrote “New Murders in the Rue Morgue,” a sequel to “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.”
Poe’s works have also been reimagined in music, plays, and an opera. Then there are the comics. Richard Corben’s masterful interpretations of Poe’s stories and poems into comics are among the best to date, but Berni Wrightson, Michael Golden, and others have also produced great adaptations. Let us not forget to mention MAD Magazine’s parody of “The Raven” and the Scooby Doo mystery “Cravin’ the Raven.” Then there are entire series like Jason Asala’s Poe and Dwight Macpherson’s The Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo. In the 2003 series Batman Nevermore, Poe joins forces with the Dark Knight to fight crime, but Poe had already battled evildoers alongside the “World’s Smallest Superhero” The Atom back in 1950.
The study collection abounds in illustrated editions of Poe’s works by artists including Dore, Dulac, Clarke, and Robinson. More recent illustrated editions have been produced by artists including Mark Summers (this edition has a preface by Neil Gaiman), Greg Hildebrandt, and Gris Grimly.
If you would like to visit the study collection for research purposes, simply contact the curator to schedule an appointment.
The Poe Museum has just launched its first i-phone app, an interactive guided tour of the Poe Museum complex and collections that can be run on iPhones, iPads and iPods that have iOS 6+. Whether users visit the museum in person or remotely through this app, they will have an opportunity to explore Poe’s life and literary career through 29 objects in the museum’s world renowned collection. Guests of the museum can use the app as an audio guide featuring museum maps, photos of the artifacts, readings of Poe’s poems and letters, as well as extra information about each object’s provenance and significance.
The Tour has been developed on the MustSee mobile audio guide application. The MustSee app is free to use and can be downloaded from iTunes here. The Poe Museum Self Guided Tour costs 99 cents as an in-app purchase. To get to the audio guide, download the MustSee app and then come back here and tap on the big logo on this page.
The MustSee platform is a mobile guide community platform where organizations and individuals can create guides and set their own price. It includes an iOS application and a website where creators can design and upload their own personalized guides. Current guide developers — including museums, cultural institutions, tour guides and travel companies as well as cultural enthusiasts — are able to create interactive art and travel guides with the MustSee app. App users can find guides created by either professionally, like the Poe Museum’s, or by other users with common interests. Guides are based on the places and items located there and may include audio, text, photos and links to web pages or videos. Guide users can download them directly to their device and can interact with the community of like-minded users by commenting, adding photos, rating and sharing on their email, Facebook and Twitter.
“Many museums have trouble being found by their respective audiences. MustSee provides the Poe Museum to be able to easily create an interactive, audio guide tour for their visitors while exposing the guide to a bigger audience of culture and literary learners,” said John Soppe, CEO of Areté Media, producers of MustSee. “We are providing a free platform to help those institutions and individuals create high quality experiences that will enrich the lives for the MustSee audience.” The price of the app is shared by Apple, the Poe Museum, and MustSee.
If you do not have an i-phone or i-pad, you can still download our audio tour here.
Here is a link to the very latest Positively Poe Conference schedule.
Here is the final schedule for the first Positively Poe Conference to be held next week, June 24-26 at the University of Virginia. Click here or write conference organizer Alexandra Urakova for more information.
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.
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.
“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.
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.