Mighty Red Pen

April 27, 2009

Poe Square named in Boston

Filed under: Lit review,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 7:29 pm
Tags: , ,

Much ado in Boston today about the naming of Edgar Allan Poe Square. According to “Boston Honors Poe, A Native Son Who Shunned the City”:

Born in Boston 200 years ago in January, Poe had long been overlooked as a native son because of his rancorous relationship with the city and its writers. But after an aggressive campaign by a devoted band of Poe enthusiasts, city officials agreed to pay tribute to the “master of the macabre” by renaming the corner of Boylston and Charles streets across from the Boston Common.

“Together again at last,” exclaimed Paul Lewis, a Poe scholar at Boston College who led the charge to honor the 19th-century writer.

In a dedication ceremony this morning, a beautiful spring day that seemed out of place for a tribute to the often-morbid writer, Lewis said the square would “celebrate the city’s connection to Poe.” He urged those still stinging from Poe’s dismissal of Boston as a provincial “Frogpondium” to let bygones be bygones.

“To these unforgiving folk I say, ‘Wow, you really, really know how to hold a grudge,’ ” he quipped to the dozens who were on hand for the ceremony.

The relationship between Poe and Boston has a sort of he-said-she-said quality to it. Read more about that. I, for one, sort of like the idea of Boston putting a claim on Poe. I was a young Poe fan (the memory of choosing “Annabel Lee” to memorize for a sixth grade class project now just seems like a harbinger for the poetry-writing, lit mag-editing high school student I eventually became) and I live near Boston, so for me it’s like two great tastes that taste great together. (That’s right, I just compared the dedication of Edgar Allan Poe Square in Boston to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.)

Not everyone agrees, partly on the grounds of point #2: I can’t, on the other hand, imagine that Poe would give two figs about a bunch of politicians and academics getting together 200 years after his birth to honor him with a sign on a street corner.

So here’s my question: is it really important for Boston to claim Poe? And does it even matter whether Poe would have wanted to be claimed?


1 Comment »

  1. I think Poe would have loved Poe Square; he was always hoping to be recognized both by the popular audience and by critical taste. Recent honors for Poe have certainly made that dream come true. I think he’d also get a fairly hearty chuckle out of it because he’s proven to Boston that his literary theories have stood the test of time, perhaps better than contemporary New Englanders Emerson and Longfellow. And, by the way, Poe’s criticism of both of them are still valid criticisms being hurled at them today.

    Comment by Rob V. — May 7, 2009 @ 1:13 pm | Reply

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