They Buried Poe Again Today
To celebrate the bicentennial of Edgar Allan Poe's death, they had a big fake funeral down in Baltimore this weekend.

Poe died alone at age 40: raving, incoherent, unloved, and wearing somebody else's clothes. His original funeral lasted three minutes. The crowd was so small that there wasn't even a sermon. A train derailed and crashed into the stonecutter's yard, destroying his tombstone before it could be installed. He was buried in an unmarked grave.

From wikipedia:

"Poe's funeral was a simple one, held at 4 p.m. on Monday, October 8, 1849. Few people attended the ceremony. Poe's uncle, Henry Herring, provided a simple mahogany coffin, and a cousin, Neilson Poe, supplied the hearse. Moran's wife made his shroud. The funeral was presided over by the Reverend W. T. D. Clemm, cousin of Poe's wife, Virginia...Sexton George W. Spence wrote of the weather: "It was a dark and gloomy day, not raining but just kind of raw and threatening." Poe was buried in a cheap coffin that lacked handles, a nameplate, cloth lining, or a cushion for his head."

Nobody knows what killed him. Was it syphilis? Alcoholism? The ravages of psychosis and schizophrenia? was he struck by lightning or perhaps dragged into a parallel dimension by his own hungry demons?




Despite the mysteries surrounding his demise, Poe remains America's most beloved writer. He invented the horror story and the detective story (we still do those better than anyone) in addition to dragging science fiction into weird and terrifying places from which it has never escaped.

He is the only writer to have a football team named after him (the Baltimore Ravens), and the only American writer beloved by the fickle French for the right reasons. His spirit animates all things fictional in NYC: he wrote here at the Mercantile Library for Fiction (now the Center for Fiction) and first published "The Raven" in "The New York Evening Mirror" in 1845.

Never successful, never happy, rarely sober, and utterly original, Poe is the patron saint of the Doomed American Writer. He was a tireless inventor for an illiterate country that still refuses to take care of its storytellers.

This weekend, they buried Poe again in an attempt to expatiate America's sins against short fiction, against ludic-yet-feverish prose, and against apolitical artistic obsession.

We are always trying to bury Poe's spirit here in America. We could have a new novelty funeral every year if we wanted.


Oh, you "liberal" and "conservative" hordes, you would have hated racist, dirty, drunken old Poe. He lived the "Southern Dream": after getting kicked out of West Point, he married his 13 year old cousin and traveled the country with nothing but his pride and a mustache, stirring up trouble and making up lies.

After toiling for decades working for other people's literary magazines, including "The Southern Literary Messenger," "Burton's Gentlemen's Magazine, and "Graham's Magazine," he decided to start a real American literary periodical that would get us Continental respect. It would be published out of Philadelphia and either be called "The Penn" or "The Stylus." He was saving his money and looking for investors when he lost his life.


They buried a wax mock-up of his body today after a funeral procession and a series of fictional guest speakers, including the narrator from "The Telltale Heart":

From the website for Poe's bicentennial funeral celebration:

"On Sunday, October 11, 2009, under police escort, Poe's body will travel from his Amity Street home to the Westminster Hall for the funeral services and internment in the family plot in the historic Westminster graveyard. The procession will be led by the Loch Raven Pipes and Drums."

"As Mr. Poe's death was sudden and unexpected exact details of the funeral are still in the planning stages. We can say that there will be two services to accommodate the expected throngs of people who wish to attend the event. The first service is at 12:30 pm and the second service at 4:30 pm. A number of people have been invited to speak and present eulogies for Mr. Poe... Not all speakers will be at both services. We are pleased to announce that beloved actor John Astin will officiate over both services."

The tickets to Poe's funeral cost $40 a piece. The day Poe died, he had no money in his pockets. Not a goddamn dime. He died as he lived: broke and proud. I wonder if there are any other broke people in Baltimore these days?

After they put the body in the ground, they will put a solid steel bar through the mouth of the wax corpse and extend it through the wax anus. And then, so that everyone can see Poe from every side, they will turn him in his grave like a pig on a spit.

In his new novelty grave, he will turn, and turn, and turn...

One day, fiction will get revenge.

Posted by miracle on Sun, 11 Oct 2009 23:43:56 -0400 -- permanent link

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