Nevermore? Here's Mo' Poe Than Ever

The pendulum has finally swung to the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's birth (Jan. 19), and the city of Baltimore, where he lived for much of his short, tortured life, is celebrating all year long. Leonard Slatkin got things started last week by leading the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra through his own a musical setting of several classic Poe poems, narrated by John Astin of "The Addams Family" (Gomez).

But things really heat up this coming weekend at Westminster Hall, where Poe and his tween bride are buried "in the sepulchre there by the sea." On Saturday, Jan. 17, John Astin rises again to perform some Poe short stories and poems, and life-sized puppets and actors will present "Hop-Frog." The next day offers a performance of "Some Words with a Mummy." ("See a mummy brought back to life through electricity!") And on Sunday a cake in the shape of the Poe monument designed by Duff Goldman of TV's Ace of Cakes will be raffled off. (No, I'm not making this up.)

Well-heeled tourists will want to make reservations at the Elkridge Furnace Inn for a five-course Poe-themed dinner. (Don't ask....) Between courses, you'll hear a theatrical reading of "The Cask of Amontillado." (Just water for me, thanks.)

Next fall, they'll put the narrator of "The Tell-Tale Heart" on trial, and reenact the funeral of EAP with all the pomp and circumstance he didn't get the first time around.

But for the Ultimate Poextravaganza, book an exclusive Poe Edition of Harbor Magic Hotels' Discover Weird US Getaway: deluxe overnight accommodations at the "haunted" Admiral Fell Inn, breakfast for two, a guide to the weird spots in Baltimore, a copy of "Weird U.S.: Your Travel Guide to America's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets" and a limited edition guide to "Poe's Baltimore: Fun Fact and Trivia." If that doesn't melt the still-beating heart of someone special, my God, what will?

Check out the full list. There are a number of what they call "Poe-tastic" events.

My favorite Poevent took place around Halloween, 2007, at the incomparable Synetic Theater in Arlington: an erotic, spell-binding production of "The Fall of the House of Usher." The Post's Peter Marks raved about it.

By Ron Charles |  January 14, 2009; 7:00 AM ET Ron Charles
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An interesting post. It's obvious that Poe still enchants and fascinates the world of the 21st century. Although also a poet and critic, he's probably mostly known in literature for his huge influence on short fiction.

I personally have always loved his poetry. Like Faulkner, it took the French to first recognize the genius of the man. Baudelaire and Mallarme, e.g., credited him as huge influences on them and French Symbolism. Still, Poe's never, or at least rarely, listed when the great American poets are racked up.

Emerson, no great poet himself, famously referred to Poe as "the jingle man." What do you think? Is there a case to be made for listing him up with our greats: Whitman, Dickinson, Stevens, Williams, Frost, Hughes, Bishop, Merrill, Plath, Ginsberg, Roethke, Berryman, Sexton, Lowell (Joel Conarroe's estimable selection)?

Posted by: lheffelkcrrcom | January 14, 2009 11:05 AM

Call me a Transcendentalist, but I'm with Emerson on this one. I still find Poe's short stories fascinating and deliciously creepy, but the heavy beat of the poems and their arch language make them seem a little silly to me.

Posted by: ronchar | January 14, 2009 1:03 PM

Poe also had a great fascination with cryptography…apparently his story “The Gold-Bug”, which incorporated ciphers as part of the story grabbed the imagination of a young William Friedman and may have shaped his life. Amazing! Also, that hotel package sounds awesome! I have stayed at the Admiral Fell Inn before and I loved it…and if memory serves me, it is very close to the Horse You Came In On bar…which, as legend has it, is the last place that Poe was seen alive. It seems like Baltimore is going all out to celebrate Poe's birthday and he wasn't even born there...I can't wait to see what happens in 40 years for his death anniversary.

Posted by: kingofzam | January 14, 2009 2:27 PM

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