Edgar Poe

By Levi Lionel Leland

In The Great Gatsby, a green light at the end of a dock symbolizes hope and promise for the future. My own personal “green light” would have to be Edgar Allan Poe Scholarship. Four years ago, when I picked up a collection of thrilling works bound in leather with a raven printed on the front, I began a fixation on an author that I had never heard of before in my life. The tales and poems written inside enthralled me to look deep into the tortured man behind the plume…little did I know looking too deep inside the master of the macabre could descend you in your very own maelstrom of insanity. Poe invented the modern detective story, and was the first to introduce the horror genre to a very disgusted yet interested society. When I read my first of many biographies of Poe, I learned that his life was the biggest horror story that ever came from him; and his death the biggest mystery he could’ve ever conceived. From there I became so fascinated with the man himself, his stories and poems almost became obsolete, yet their importance was so vital, for they manifested the dejected life Poe lived.

In the autumn of 2010 I traveled to Baltimore, Maryland to pay my respects to Poe at his final resting place in the Westminster Burial Grounds. Edgar lies next to his cousin/wife Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe, and aunt/mother-in-law Maria “Muddy” Clemm under a monument erected to him in 1875 after twenty-six years of resting under an unmarked grave. A few blocks away from the cemetery stands a tiny brick house (now a museum) built in 1830 that holds significance to Poe’s legacy. That house is where Poe penned his very first horror stories. There I became acquainted with a very gracious curator named Jeff Jerome (as seen in the A&E video biography of Edgar Allan Poe). We had a long discussion on the life, times, works, and death of Poe. Mr. Jerome was so impressed with my knowledge and passion for the writer that he removed a sign off of an old chair that read: “Do not sit.” Jerome then exclaimed that he was going to “break the rules” at the museum and he allowed me to sit down in the very chair that Poe sat while utilizing his genius on parchment.

In the summer of 2011 I entered a “Poe Plaster Party” contest. The request was to create a piece of art in any media: paint, drawing, sculpture, dance, music, story, poetry, etc. Here I sought the opportunity to apply my artistic skills to my literary interest. I created a pen and ink drawing of Poe and his works. After over five hundred entries, and thirteen winners, I came in second place. I and the other twelve winners were cordially invited to Poe’s cottage in the Bronx, New York to have their pieces put in a time capsule and plastered in the wall of his home. The dainty cottage also holds much significance to the legacy that is Poe. After moving his family there in 1846 to help his ailing wife Virginia, she succumbed to tuberculosis only a year later in 1847. That spiraled Poe’s own mental stability downward, leading him to his own demise two years later in October of 1849.

Two months ago in September of 2011, Mr. Jerome contacted me with news of a special gift he had to give me, so I eagerly packed my bag and traveled to Baltimore again to visit the grave and the house of Edgar Allan Poe, and to claim my mysterious present from the curator. When I arrived, Jeff Jerome presented me with an old piece of plaster about the size of a book. Upon closer examination I saw what looked like hair sprouting from the dry, hardened cement. Jerome was giving me a piece of the house from when it was built in 1830 and from when Poe had lived in it himself. Back then, the carpenters would place horse hair in the mixture of cement to bond it and make it stronger. This early passion has allowed me advances that I could never have envisaged. I have gotten closely acquainted to Poe Scholars and writers throughout my Poe endeavors. I think what these Scholars see in me is rare, because when attending these Poe based events I am always substantially younger than everyone else. Poe Scholar and author Cynthia Cirile and I have corresponded through email numerous amounts of times to the day, and she has sent me chapters of her upcoming Poe Biography that nobody else has read. Ms. Cirile has even decided to add my name to the others in the dedication page of her book. Another author and Poe aficionado Lorna Miller has commissioned me to illustrate “The Raven” for her upcoming fiction book based on Edgar Allan Poe.

In The Great Gatsby, Gatsby looks to a green light at the end of a dock in hopes to a promising future. For me to be accepted and praised by these kind adults that share the same passions as I do has inspired me to continue my studies and artwork pertaining to Poe with as much maturity as I demonstrate to them today. I can only anticipate my “green light” to present my emerging years of Poe Scholarship differently than Gatsby’s “green light” presented him. The future may be unknown, but anyone can create their own pathway to a prominent one, as long as they look to their “green light” with hope and desire, rather than greed and selfishness.

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5 responses to “Edgar Poe

  1. You have some real resume stuffers there for such a young guy! I’m leaving Edgar Poe, as a “writer” here at Bangari. This would be a good place to post his work. You could then use your infinite Poe wisdom to inspire and moderate discussions. Start with the one about “Beatrice?” You know, the one we read on our road trip to Vermont. the one with the “teeth.” When you are feeling ambitious and creative, include an original piece of art to go with the literary work.

  2. Ironically, my mother-in-law’s paternal side of the family (Poe) is actually related to Edgar Allan Poe through his uncle! For years, they said that there didn’t seem to be a link, but recently I had done some digging around in the extended family tree and came across some other relatives who confirmed that we are all indeed related to him. Funny thing is, my mother-in-law’s grandfather was named Edgar Allan Poe too.

  3. That is really cool Natasha…Very post-able content as well. I was deep into genealogy for years. Levi and his brother John are direct descendants of Capt. Miles Standish, a hero of mine, as Poe is a hero of Levi’s — and you can tell a lot about a man by his heroes and champions…Their other ancestor is the Rev. Robert Cushman, also of the Mayflower.

    I want to start covering genealogy here at Bangari. It’s very “niche” however, one pair of ancestors from 150 years ago, can have 10,000 decedents. Even if a small percentage of those research roots, these posts will be very valuable to them, and they will share and repost, and enjoy them for free.

    A great thing for Poe Scholars, like Levi…Who are still pondering mysteries of Poe’s bizzare, real life, content like this will draw out folks like you, who can get close to a source in Poe’s family tree, to give information that might help solve some mysteries.

    For instance, there is some evidence that points to Poe’s death being attributed to a brain tumor. This might also account for some of his strange, out-of-his-mind behavior some witnessed before his death, yet blamed on drugs and alcohol. I’ll bet those contemplating this mystery, would be anxious to hear if brain cancer may have run in the family.

    If you can find anything out, please post it here. Poe is going to be a popular topic here at Bangari, and on the Internet in general, especially in light of the movie, “The Raven” starring John Cusak, coming out in March 2012, a mystery about a serial killer, who’s murders tie in with Poe’s gruesome stories.

  4. Kevin, interesting thread 🙂 I am a huge genealogy buff…it all started with my maiden surname (Kohlhoff) because my parents and I knew that there had to be more than just our known family out there with it being so unusual. As it turned out, my online searching brought me in touch with a 3rd cousin of my dad’s whose sister had made a family tree and OURS was their missing link! Since then, I’ve been able to trace our family up to the 1700’s. This year has been huge for finding family on both sides of my bloodlines as well as my husband’s Poe and Polak sides. I suspect it has to do with the familysearch.org (latter-day saints’) search site being updated with the new decade so that there are more records showing. I would be happy to share tidbits of our Poe history as I find more! I don’t know of anyone having brain issues among the Poes, but I will ask around with some of the other extended relatives.

  5. Hi there, I enjoy reading all of your psychic article.
    I like to write a little comment to support you.

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