On Wednesday I invited one of my intrepid friends to join me at the semi-annual Poe Room Event at NYU. It’s a community event hosted by the University in one of the law school’s buildings. The Poe Room came about because of the ‘Poe House’ that was on Third near the corner of Sullivan Street. When I was at NYU it was a frat house. The historical connection of with Edgar Alan Poe, spit and chewing gum seemed to be holding it in place.
When the University wanted to build on the site there was a huge battle, between the preservationists and the law school. It took a while, but the compromise seems to have succeeded. The façade of the old house was integrated into the new building and the Poe Room, behind the old wall, holds some Poe memorabilia and some lovely period artifacts. Unlike Poe’s house in the Bronx, that has been moved twice and recently reopened for visitors, the Poe House in The Village was sadly beyond repair.
The event was inspiring — and was entitled ‘Inspired by Poe.’ A doctoral candidate from Stony Brook made a presentation on Poe’s women characters and how we can understand them in relation to Lady Gaga and other contemporary female icons. Two actors portrayed the Raven and Poe as collaborating writing partners. My friend wasn’t happy with the Raven’s New York accent. I have to agree. I thought the Raven should have been from Richmond or Baltimore.
For me, the highlight of the program was when Richard Smithies, an actor, recited ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ in character. ‘Cask’ is one of Poe’s most famous stories. It’s also one of his most elusive, as the narrator’s motive is never explained. He’s consumed by his mad desire, but he never reveals WHY he’s hell bent on revenge. It’s one of the stories that I’ve used in my own Poe-inspired Monster, POED.
I’ll be on the program for the fall semester Poe Room Event in December. I plan to read a few pages from POED. I’m not an actor so I’ll be rehearsing like crazy before the big day.