Tag: Edgar Allan Poe

An Edgar Allan Poe-mance by Alexandra Margaret Vene

When I decided to Google “Edgar Allan Poe themed things”, I had a feeling shit was going to get weird. As it turns out, there are Poe themed restaurants, tattoos, and posters, but my favorite out of all of the oddities were the weddings. Yes, couples actually themed their weddings after the writer. Complete with things like raven centerpieces, skeleton hand boutenieres, blood red roses, and black linens, these weddings are designed to embody the style and themes of Poe’s work. I cannot be the only person that finds it difficult to see the romance in a Poe wedding, but after all he is a Dark “Romantic”. 

When I read about him on the Poe Museum website, I realized that maybe Poe did embody some romance. His marriage to Virginia was nothing short of happy (and disturbing) and it seemed as his home life was what kept him going through the poverty that he faced. When his cousin wife died, Poe was devastated and could not even bring himself to write. However, it did not take him long to become infatuated with another woman who inspired some of his poems such as “For Annie”, the only issue being that she was married. Since he couldn’t be with her, Poe became engaged to a different woman who he had been with before and as he traveled they wrote love letters back and forth. Unfortunately, he died before they ever married.

But the point of talking about Poe’s personal life is that maybe there is some sense in an Edgar Allan Poe themed wedding, even if most of his writing is dark and gruesome. After all, to have a love like he had for Virginia is pretty special. Even if she was his baby cousin.

At the Edgar Allan Poe museum in Richmond, VA, there is an “Enchanted Garden” and the museum website claims that Poe thought gardens were an “art form”. The museum hosts weddings in the garden, for a fee obviously, where couples can get married and…

“live happily evermore”.

You Can’t Sit With Us! by Annmarie B Persico

A princess, a boxer, a Phanatic, and a statesman are sitting in a bar eating cheesesteaks and soft pretzels having a Philadelphia Icons party with me.  In walks Edgar Allen Poe…

This pretty much defines how I feel about Edgar Allen Poe as a Philadelphia Icon.

A “City of Neighborhoods”

Yes we are the “City of Brotherly Love” but as a resident Philadelphian I adhere firmly to the belief that we are a “City of Neighborhoods” and Poe does not check all of my “You’re a Philadelphia Icon if” boxes mostly because he isn’t from a neighborhood. He lived here for 6 years and wrote some major pieces of work here, he is undeniably a Literary Icon but as far as I’m concerned Baltimore can have him. I’ve made the argument in class that Poe was using Philadelphia as a launching pad into greatness (aren’t all Philadelphians) but that fact of the matter is he didn’t even live in a section of Philadelphia that was Philadelphia yet.

“Many of the current neighborhoods around Philadelphia existed as separate boroughs, districts and townships in the County of Philadelphia before absorption into the city via the 1854 Act of Consolidation. Before consolidation, Philadelphia’s city boundaries extended only as far as William Penn’s original plan, from the Delaware River to the Schuylkill and from Vine to South Streets.”  Poe’s neighborhood didn’t even make the cut. “Consolidation brought into the city neighborhoods such as historic Germantown in the northwest, formally founded one year before William Penn’s arrival, and the Spring Garden community on the city’s northwest edge.”

Ben said it best, if you’re from the city and you meet someone from the city the first thing you asked is where did you grow up? And if the answer isn’t a neighborhood than you are probably going to doubt their Philadelphia-ness.

“Implicit in the “City of Neighborhoods” dynamic is the intense pride Philadelphians hold about the distinct residential areas comprising this city. Philadelphians love their city but they particularly love those sections of their city where they were born, raised and in many instances continue to live.”

Strike 1 Mr. Poe.

Exposure to your Home-City Icons

When born and raised in a city as wonderful as Philadelphia you are exposed at quite a young age to some ritualistic pilgrimages to places where icons walked and lived. Who didn’t go to the Betsy Ross house, the Franklin Institute, the Art Museum, or a Philadelphia sports game at least once during their Philadelphia childhood? If you aren’t making these pilgrimages yourself, then you are at least schooled in knowing when and where significant events in Philadelphia Icons lives happened.

I’m 25 years old and didn’t even know the Poe House existed in Philadelphia.

Now we can maybe blame that one on a sheltered childhood, or a lack of parental interest in exposing me to Philadelphia Icons properly but I’ve known where Grace Kelly lived, went to high school, and got married since I was 5. My sister changed her parish to get married at the same church as her even though she will never admit it.  I knew Rocky ran up those steps since forever. And I certainly knew that the founding fathers were hanging out writing the Declaration of Independence in our fair city from a young age too.

*Side-note- Poe is definitely a literary Icon and my mom was an English literature major and still didn’t find the need to make me aware of “his” house.

Strike 2 Mr. Poe.

It’s my Party

Grace Kelly, East Falls. Rocky Balboa, South Philly. The Phillie Phanatic, South Philly. Bejamin Franklin, it doesn’t matter he harnessed electricity and was a founding father but we will give him Old City. I could offer my own personal Roxborough Icons that no one would know; mostly because they’re neighborhood people who grew up in and impacted my community while eating Wawa Hoagies and Deli’s cheesesteaks twice a week but I’ll just stick to my claims based on neighborhood pride and exposure to his story that Poe just can’t sit with MY Philadelphia Icons.  Sure it’s a little Mean Girls of me, but who better than a Philadelphian to decide who makes the cut. Not everyone can be from Philadelphia- but my Philadelphia pride just couldn’t take the blow of admitting him to my Icons party.

Strike 3 Mr. Poe




Dessert Should Always Follow Dinner by Daniel P Cannon

Picture it: It was Sunday March 22, 2015 and I was twenty one and a half years old.  I literally rolled out of bed and on to the floor so that my day could start. Normally on Sundays I sleep in and then stumble my way through work but this Sunday was different. I was to visit the Edgar Allan Poe House on 7th Street and then stumble my way through work. I walked the dogs, downed a Rice Krispy treat, and made my way to the bus at around 9:20am. All I could think about was how the sunny weather was so inappropriate and how I really needed an overcast sky or rain to truly get into the gothic state of mind Poe occupied. From the bus I went to the El and soon enough I was at the Spring Garden stop. The streets were somewhat empty of pedestrians and so I had a lot of time to think about what was about to happen. These thoughts left my mind when I saw the Raven statue outside and I knew I was in the right place. I walked up to the door, knocked once, and was let inside by the Ranger.

The first thing you see when you walk in is a gift shop full of Poe books and memorabilia. I own a Complete Tales and Poetry by Poe so none of this was of any particular interest. The Ranger informed me that the information movie was just beginning and then after that I could take the self-guided tour. The movie was informative and helped get me even more acquainted with Poe. The Ranger handed me a laminated self-guided tour sheet and told me which stairs to avoid and which direction to go. She told me I could start or end with the cellar saying, “It’s like dessert because it is the best part.” I chose to go to the cellar first. I walked down the steps, opened the door, and went inside. The door shut behind me.

My first real encounter with Poe was in 8th grade. It was his birthday and so to celebrate him, our principal read us “The Raven” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” on the top floor of our old school building which was still decorated for the Haunted house we throw every year. Each of us had to move old leaves off the ground and sit Indian style as we were read these horror tales. Nothing struck me as particularly but this started an interest in Poe that I have not been able to shake. I bought a book, watched any special I could about him, and reveled any time that we discussed a story of his in high school English. I enjoyed him immensely but I was never scared of him. Then the door shut behind me.

It was an old school cellar. It was all stone and a lone staircase sat in the middle of the floor. I could see storm doors on the opposite side of the room but they were shut tightly. Everything was quiet and the only light was from two tiny windows on my right. I looked around and at this point, everything in my body was telling me to leave. I don’t know about ghosts or the supernatural, but I felt something in that cellar that scared the hell out of me. The rest of the house seems like a blur and it makes me wish that I saved the cellar for last because it wouldn’t have ruined everything else for me. Dessert should always follow dinner.

I spent the ride home texting my mom to try and calm myself down. I went into the basement of a horror icon and I finally felt the horror that inhabited most of his stories. I do not want to go back again.

Image Credits:



Edgar Allan Poe on Drunk History by Edward Thomas McGovern

I, like most people, read Edgar Allan Poe in High School. Before then, my only real exposure to him was from the Simpsons, which featured a parody of “The Raven” in the first “Treehouse of Horror” and had Lisa’s rival building a diorama based on “The Tell Tale Heart” in the episode “Lisa’s Rival”. I knew little about him, other that he wrote some pretty creepy stuff.  The stories we read in high school supported my idea of Poe as a guy who wrote really unsettling horror. That was my idea of Poe, until one day I was watching Drunk History.


If you are unfamiliar with the show, Drunk History started as a web series but is now a show on Comedy Central. The premise is that someone gets really drunk and recounts a moment in history. Intercut with them sitting down telling the story are recreations, usually staring well known guest stars, who lip synch along to the narrator’s version of history. It might sound a little confusing on paper, but it only takes a few seconds to get accustomed to the style when you’re actually watching it.

On the episode “Baltimore”, Duncan Trussell narrates the segment on Rufus Griswold and Edgar Allan Poe.  Jason Ritter plays Rufus Griswold and Jesse Plemons from Breaking Bad plays Edgar Allan Poe. The short segments talks about the rivalry between the two. Obviously, it’s not meant to be a 100% historical recounting of the two men’s relationship, but it does a good job of showing Edgar Allan Poe as a critic and not just a man who writes poems and horror stories. It gives a glimpse at how ruthless he could be in his reviews, something that I got a glimpse of at the Edgar Allan Poe Nation Historic Site.

So while it may not be the most historically accurate account of Edgar Allan Poe, it is a funny way of showing Poe as someone other than what he is commonly known as. It got me much more interested in hearing about his relationships with his contemporaries and his thoughts on their work.

Bobblehead Poe by Lea Millip

When I think of Edgar Allan Poe, it is not his horror stories or dreary personality Bobbleheadthat I think about first, it is the memory of an Edgar Allan Poe bobblehead that sat atop my eighth grade teacher’s desk.  That stupid, freaky, bobbling bobblehead.  It never seemed to stop bobbling and I always felt that it was staring at me.  I originally did not know who the bobblehead was but after we read some of Poe’s stories, my English teacher shameless professed her obsession with Poe and her love for that bobblehead.  As we have been debating whether or not Poe is an American icon, I keep going back to this memory.  It is clear to me, and I assume most people, that Poe is a literary icon.  After all, it was my English teacher who had the obsession with Poe.  My class even went on a field trip to the University of Pennsylvania to watch a production of a few Poe tales.  I am personally not a literature or English fanatic but I do have respect for Poe’s works and think he deserves to be recognized as a literary icon.

Happy POeIn the debate of whether or not Poe is a Philadelphia icon, I make the argument that he is indeed a Philadelphia icon.  I support Philadelphia professor Ed Pettit’s argument in The Great Poe Debate that we remember a writer for their works and Poe’s most productive writing years were in Philadelphia.  Pettit also says that Philadelphia was the “crucible for Poe’s imagination”.  I would say that Philadelphia has been the crucible for many a successful people’s imaginations.  I do not think the quantity of time one has spent in the city is as relevant as the quality of one’s time spent there.  Poe’s time in Philadelphia was quality time.

Back to the bobblehead- it is no doubt that Poe is an icon.  Not everyone gets a bobblehead.  It is the type of icon that requires further investigation.  As previously stated, Poe is a literary and Philadelphia icon under my examination.  But I just cannot seem to let Poe fall under the title of “American icon”.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say Poe did anything wrong, he just failed to make the cut.  I never heard of anyone who admired Poe’s personality or “charm” if that’s what you would like to call it.  His gloomy personality is a main reason why he is not an American icon; I think it is safe to say Americans would rather not feel the way Poe felt or purposely imitate his depression and misery.  However, it seems only fitting that the Poe bobblehead in my old classroom freaked me out.  I think Poe himself would freak me out too.



The Great Poe Debate with Ed Pettit, Jeff Jerome and Paul Lewis, moderated by Grover Silcox



The Poe House and America’s Underdogs by Nicole Thomas

In visiting the Poe house, I found myself most excited to go into the cellar. I saved the cellar for last, and when I got there, I found it to be satisfyingly creepy, but I wasn’t scared, I was fascinated. I found it interesting that the Park Service did not clean the cobwebs on the ceiling. These cobwebs acted as a natural decoration of the cellar and added to that creepy feeling one gets when they think of Poe, especially in the dark cellar where he once lived. The empty house leaves everything up to the imagination, and as someone who is familiar with Poe, the emptiness of the house is the best part. In the podcast of The Great Poe Debate, Paul Lewis, the representative from Boston said something very interesting that really hit the nail on the head: “No city can claim Poe. He is a figure of world literature” (33:46). Poe’s works are so popular around the world, and if he was alive today, I don’t think he would want us to credit his legacy to a certain city. Poe gave his legacy to us, his readers through his mystifying works. Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore should be honored to have been a part of his journey in fascinating and captivating the entire world. Those three cities in particular have an intimate connection with Poe, and should feel lucky to have that connection. Without Poe’s works, The Poe House in Philadelphia would just be an empty house.

In The Great Poe Debate audio, in his opening statement, Paul Lewis (Boston) jokingly says “We know how badly underdogs do in American society”, and then shortly after, Philadelphian Ed Pettit is introduced. Pettit comes on stage accompanied by “Gonna Fly Now” the iconic theme song from Rocky. This made me laugh, and then I found myself realizing that Edgar Allan Poe and Rocky Balboa are very similar. Who would have thought that one of the best writers in the world has something in common with a fictional, Philadelphia native boxing icon? Like Rocky, Poe was just a poor underdog, looking to find his way in the world. Then I began thinking about all the Rosie’s, Wonder Woman, Cowboys in Westerns, the Migrant Mother, even John Henry. So many of America’s icons began at the bottom and rose up from the ashes. They were all underdogs, and we love them for it. There is something so satisfying and rewarding to America about the idea of the underdog. Can this be because America itself started out as an underdog? As a country we have been through so many hardships:  The Industrial Revolution (John Henry), The Civil War (Betsy Ross), Migrating West, The Great Depression (Migrant Mother), The Populist Era (The Wizard of Oz), World War 2 (Rosie the Riveter/Wonder Woman), and we made it through all of them. We fought our Apollo Creed’s (Rocky) and our contemptible publishers (Poe) and we made it out alive (for the most part).

Disappointing look into Poe’s home by Samantha Rae Goslee

Before this class I had never known that Edgar Allen Poe had lived in Philadelphia, that he had rented so many houses here; I never knew he had been so close to my home. Although I’m not a huge fan of poetry, I can still really appreciate Poe’s shorts stories and poems. They give you a good sense of what he was going through psychologically at the time of them being written and finding out that a majority of his most famous works were inspired by my city make them all the more special.

I was excited after learning that we were to visit the Poe house. I was excited in general that there even was a Poe house. My mind started racing on what it could look like, what new information and little secrets his house would tell me that I had never known before. I couldn’t wait to experience how spooky and chilling it would be inside. His writings give you a look into his mind but maybe his house could give you an even clearer view. I planned the trip and decided to bring my little sister along since shes at the age I had first learned about Poe. I was disappointed to learn that she barely knew who he was besides a familiar sounding name, all the more reason to bring her.

My sister, boyfriend, and I were all disappointed by the house. We were all expecting more. There was no furniture, the house was very worn down (but I guess that is to be expected considering how old it is) and there wasn’t very much information besides the general knowledge on the walls when you first walk in. Someones room can tell a lot about a person – the type of things they have up on their walls, the type of furniture they have, the way they organized those things but Poe’s house was bare, it couldn’t tell me anything.

Most of the rooms were normal, I didn’t get any weird vibes from them and I’m disappointed to say I didn’t see any props that the rest of the class apparently saw. My favorite room aside from the cellar was Muddy’s room. If I ever was to live in that house, for whatever reason, I would claim that room in a heartbeat. Even though the sun was shining bright through the windows, lighting up the room, it still had a very haunted feel to it. It may have been the dark, peeling paint, or something else. The cellar was the best part – as soon as you stepped in you got eerie vibes. It was dark, musky, very old and fall apart. It was really neat to experience and view the house that had inspired some stories like The Black Cat and to see the wall where the narrator’s wife had been apparently holed up.I think I enjoy Poe so much because I grew up with my parents taking me to haunted attractions even when I was very little and Poe is a staple in the horror genre.

After visiting the house, doing the reading, and listening to the podcast, I still don’t think Poe is just a Philadelphia icon. Even if most of his most popular pieces were written in or inspired by the city, he only lived here for a little bit and that inspiration is the only thing that could possibly connect him to here more than anywhere else he had lived.