When people think of the founders of modern-day horror, only a handful of names comes to mind. For most of us at the top of the list is Edgar Allan Poe, the deranged genius who gave us “The Black Cat” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” among many others. While he lived in several places in the New England area, the city of Baltimore, Maryland, embraced the dark poet more than any other. Why did you think their football team’s name is the “Ravens”?
Baltimore is where Poe is buried, the location of the “Poe Toaster,” and home to a museum that is located inside a rowhouse in which Poe used to live. But now, with the downward-spiraling economy, the Poe House and Museum is being threatened. Not by monsters or flocks of birds or ghosts, but by something far more insidious: budget cuts. For more than thirty years, the Poe House and Museum has been run by Baltimore’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. But nagging budgetary problems led the city to declare that the museum must become self-sufficient or be closed down. Read that last part again. CLOSED DOWN. Current projections state that the museum will cease operations at the beginning of 2012, if not sooner, unless the city of Baltimore changes its mind.
For the moment let’s ignore that Poe was a horror writer, but that he was such a prolific and important literary figure in America’s history seems to support the argument that this closure shouldn’t happen. Most, if not all, people reading this article studied at least one of Poe’s stories in high school, alongside Whitman and Hawthorne. That he was a horror writer should raise even more ire. If it were not for Poe, we wouldn’t have writers the caliber of King, Barker, Matheson, and countless others. I know that had I not been inspired by Poe at an early age, I wouldn’t have become a writer.
But, as with most things, there is hope, and that hope comes from your voices. The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore has, on its website, a page dedicated to saving the Poe House and Museum with contact numbers for Baltimore’s mayor and online petitions for signing. Take a moment to head over to eapoe.org to find out how you can help save this important piece of horror and literary history.
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