Sticking to the Poe-Boy Diet

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With luck a couple of Edgar Allan Poe straggler-items won’t seem excessive. The slideshow of Poe manuscripts and letters at the Paper Cuts blog of the New York Times is not to be missed, and be sure to click on the link to a PDF of “What Literature Owes to Edgar Allan Poe,” a rewarding trip in the wayback machine to the mindset of 1909 as the newspaper acknowledges Poe’s Centenary. Where we might expected overstuffed prose, a stylistic portliness suggestive of the about-to-be-inaugurated William Howard Taft, the NYT‘s Percival Pollard is gratifyingly lively: “Halls of fame are largely built by press agents and by prejudice. ” Of the post-Griswoldian EAP-bashers he says “[Poe] does not seem to have been much of an equestrian, or I am sure they would have said he was a horse thief.” The ink-stained tide is clearly turning in Poe’s favor; Pollard sees the animus of one region in particular as being washed away Howard-style by an influx of newer barbarians: “The New Englanders gave us sneers about Poe, and they themselves are now merely a convention that will die when the last New Englander has disappeared before the Celt and the Calabrian.” He does concede that “A halo of inebriety all too often encircles [Poe’s] head,” but then that’s also true of an Ard Righ or three in Howard Studies…

Anyone who has watched one or more seasons of HBO’s The Wire will recall that the West Baltimore corner boys, when they don’t call out “5-0! 5-0!” whenever the cops roll up on them, sometimes refer to “Po-po” instead. Obviously an unaffectionate diminutive of police, but it’s fun to pretend our Eminent Baltimorean is being commemorated.


And before we leave our avatar of “rum, riot, and rhyme,” (not that we ever really do leave him) I’m going to indulge in a bit of nepotism, a practice we here at TC Central ordinarily hate more than we do the last chapter of Almuric. Reproduced herewith are two panels from “And I Saw Edgar Allan Poe,” a 1997 comic by David and Jeffrey Tompkins starring EAP as an eternally disinterring revenant in the City of Dreadful Night (NYC before domestication and Disneyfication). Even though my brother Jeff failed to render Eliza Poe as enough of a cutie and my brother David refused to use my suggestion of an English teacher who complains that getting his students to volunteer thoughts about “Berenice” is like pulling teeth, “And I Saw” holds up as some of their best work.