Prepare the roses and cognac for Poe anniversary

Read Street

October 19, 2008|By dave rosenthal and nancy johnston | dave rosenthal and nancy johnston,dave.rosenthal@baltsun.com and nancy.johnston@baltsun.com

Bouchercon, the conference of mystery writers and fans that drew well over 1,000 people to Baltimore, is over. But we have another event to look forward to: the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's birth.

The noir master was born in Boston on Jan. 19, 1809, and first came to Baltimore in 1829 to live with relatives, according to a timeline of the local Poe House and Museum. After a stint at West Point, N.Y., he returned here and lived on Amity Street in West Baltimore with his widowed aunt and other relatives. Poe wrote a number of short stories here, before moving on to Richmond, Va., and Philadelphia. He died in Baltimore in 1849.

A Philadelphia blogger named Edward Petit has been clamoring to have Poe's body disinterred from the Westminster Burying Ground and hauled north. He even had the gall to make that claim right in our backyard, at a Bouchercon panel about Poe. Luckily, the audience was not moved. (See for yourself on a video that will be posted on Read Street tomorrow.)

We all know Pettit's argument is absurd. Poe belongs to Baltimore, where his memory is respected.

Our pro football team is the Ravens; theirs is the Eagles. Our Sheraton hotel has a Poe Room; Philly's has Salon 1. We've even named public housing - the Poe Homes - after him. And his passing is honored each year with graveside roses and cognac. In Philly, he might get a cheesesteak and some Yuengling. At best.

You'll find lots of opportunities to celebrate Poe's birth. You can visit the Poe houses in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Richmond next year for anniversary events.

Or simply watch for new Poe-related books. Poe's Children, a horror anthology that includes tales from Peter Straub, Stephen King and Neil Gaiman, went on sale recently. In the Shadow of the Master, a collection of his tales and related essays by mystery writers (including Baltimore's Laura Lippman), is scheduled for a January release.

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