Thursday, December 8, 2011 is the bicentennial of the death of Edgar Allan Poe’s mother, Eliza Poe. Though Edgar was only two years old when he lost his mother, his “mournful and neverending remembrance” of her cast a shadow over his life and work. Although Eliza Poe’s fame has long been overshadowed by her famous son, she was actually a talented and popular actress in the early days of American theater.
In observance of the bicentennial, the Poe Museum hosted a lecture by renowned Poe scholar Richard Kopley, a performance by Eliza Poe interpreter Debbie Phillips, and an exhibit of rare artifacts related to her life and career. The weekend began with the Poe Illumination, in which the Poe Museum’s Enchanted Garden came to life with thousands of lights and holiday decorations. Below is some video of the Poe Foundation’s President, Dr. Harry Lee Poe, speaking at Eliza Poe’s grave after having laid a wreath on her monument.
The exhibit devoted to Poe’s mother continues until April 1, 2012, so be sure not to miss it. In case you can’t attend in person, some of the artifacts from the exhibit can now be seen in our online collections database.
Excellent jazz accompaniment for the evening’s festivities was provided by Jack Winn Duo and Poe fans young and old (plus a stray bat or two) really got into the spirit of the event.
Of course, this Unhappy Hour also served as the Poe Museum’s first event of our busy fall season. Make sure that you check our events calendar for information about all kinds of exciting things that will be happening in October.
First up on Sunday October 2nd from 2-4pm is the launch party for Richmond Macabre a horror anthology dedicated to Poe and featuring stories set right here in the River City. We hope to see folks at as many of our October events as possible. October is Poe’s month after all!
The theme for our July Unhappy Hour centered on Poe’s classic tale of wine and revenge, “The Cask Of Amontillado”. Since Poe’s tale is set in Italy during “the supreme madness of the Carnival season,” we decided to celebrate with a little carnival of our own in the Enchanted Garden.
It was a very hot and humid night, but we had lots of wonderful folks brave the heat to enjoy the festivities anyway and it was well worth the effort.
Local band Beggars of Life provided the perfect musical accompaniment to the evening. Here is a video of Lulu, Phineas Figg and Stinky Patterson in action in front of the Poe Shrine (video courtesy of Jason Morris):
In addition to our usual food and cash bar, we had many wonderful activities including:
* A Fortune Teller – the fabulous Madame Stephania who gave tarot readings to all who crossed her palm with silver (or carnival tickets)
* People also had the opportunity to make their own carnival masks or get their faces painted
* Thanks to the lovely Heather from The Wine Seller – people even had a chance to participate in an Amontillado tasting. They also got to learn how much wine is actually in a “pipe” of amontillado (130 gallons or 656 bottles of wine) and did NOT have to worry about getting walled up in a basement to do so!
Amontillado tasting fun
* We also had many carnival games including a chance to dig for buried treasure, coffin races, a black cat ring toss and a Wheel of MISfortune (this is a Poe-themed event, after all).
Black cat ring toss sign
Coffin race track at the ready!
Some people even wore their own masks to the event!
Awesome carnival masks
People really got into the Carnival spirit and had a great time in the middle of July.
This carnival looks like it may become an annual event – so keep an eye out for it next year.
And get ready for our next Unhappy Hour, which is coming up on August 25th. The theme will be based on Poe’s “A Descent into the Maelstrom” and will feature sea shanties with Bob Zentz and other nautical activities.
Thought I’d post a few more pretty pictures from the Enchanted Garden at the Poe Museum for your enjoyment on this humid Monday.
(Just click the photo to be taken to a larger version of the image!)
There are still plenty of beautiful flowers blooming away, just in time for our next Unhappy Hour coming up this Thursday, May 26th, which will feature a visit from Poe’s mother, Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe (as portrayed by Debbie Phillips).