Mayor Declares “Edgar Allan Poe
Proclamation Occurs In Tandem with
Appearance of New “Poe Toaster”
|Edgar Allan Poe, not dated, Cased Photograph Collection, CSPH 277, Maryland Historical Society. On view now thru Poe’s birthday weekend celebration.
BALTIMORE, January 14, 2016 -Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the Mayor of Baltimore, has declared a city-wide “Edgar Allan Poe Appreciation Day” in honor of the city’s beloved literary son. This proclamation will be read at Westminster Hall & Burying Ground at 3 pm on Saturday, January 16, 2016 during a weekend-long birthday celebration of Edgar Allan Poe. The capstone event will be the first and only publicly accessible appearance of the New “Poe Toaster.” Westminster Hall and Burying Ground is located at 519 W. Fayette Street in West Baltimore.
The Edgar Allan Poe Birthday Observance will include a reading of the Mayoral Proclamation as well as theatrical readings by costumed actors of “The Cask of Amontillado,” “Annabel Lee,” “Eldorado,” “Alone,” “The Conqueror Worm” and many others. In addition to Poe’s works, tributes from around the world, dating to 1934, will be read from countries including Persia, Siam, Chile, Yugoslavia, Brazil and others. The event will be hosted by Poe House Curator Emeritus Jeff Jerome. The appearance of the “Poe Toaster,” who will “Toast” Poe at the Poe Monument, will conclude the event.
Included in the Mayoral Proclamation are these words:
WHEREAS: Edgar Allan Poe, who has been described as a visionary, the creator of the science fiction and horror genre, who began his literary career in Baltimore in the early 1830’s and who died here under mysterious circumstances in 1849;
WHEREAS: Poe’s fame is worldwide with countless people traveling to Baltimore from around the world to visit his small home at 203 North Amity Street and his grave at the historic Westminster Hall and Burial Grounds;
WHEREAS: The Maryland Historical Society, The Westminster Preservation Trust, Baltimore CityLit Project, Mesmeric Revelations! of Edgar Allan Poe, Poe Baltimore and Jeff Jerome Curator Emeritus of the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum have joined together to honor and celebrate this poet, writer and visionary with a special tribute on Saturday, January 16th;
WHEREAS: Since the 1940’s a mysterious figure, known affectionately as “The Poe Toaster” has visited Poe’s grave on the writer’s birthday, January 19th, and places three red roses and a half filled bottle of expensive French cognac on Poe’s Monument and ceased in 2009;
WHEREAS: This group of organizations and individuals have decided to reinvigorate this world famous tradition with the selection of a “new” Poe Toaster who continue with this touching tribute;
THEREFORE: I, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor of Baltimore do hereby proclaim January 19, 2016 as “Edgar Allan Poe Appreciation Day” in Baltimore and do hereby ask that the citizens pause and take note of Poe and his contributions to world literature and support these fine institutions in their endeavor to honor Edgar Allan Poe.
About The New “Poe Toaster”
In November, an audience of more than 100 witnessed performances from finalists at The Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore (201 W. Monument Street), and selected the new “Poe Toaster” through a secret ballot.
Applications were submitted from artists from around the country. Each of the finalists performed their tributes to Poe anonymously. Their true identity, like the original “Poe Toaster”, remains a mystery.
The Maryland Historical Society partnered with Poe Baltimore, Westminster Hall and Burying Ground, and The Mesmeric Revelations! Of Edgar Allan Poe to issue a call for submissions from artists to perform as their own original vision and interpretation of the “Poe Toaster”.
Other Edgar Allan Poe-Related Birthday Events
|An original work by Suku depicting the Poe House – it will be on sale during POE-Zella
Westminster Hall & Burial Ground isn’t the only location in Baltimore celebrating Poe’s birthday; “POE-Zella” will begin a month-long exhibition and sale of Poe themed images from the BCC at Zella’s Pizzeria, located at 1145 Hollins Street, Baltimore.
POE-Zella continues with a combination birthday celebration and reception for the photography exhibit on January 16 from 2:00 to 5:00. Here, visitors can meet the photographers and celebrate with many Edgar Allen Poe fans.
Also The Poe House (203 N. Amity Street) will be open for free 11:00 to 1:00 the same day.
About Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe (19 January 1809 – 7 October 1849) may have been born in Boston in 1809, but he died in Baltimore, under mysterious circumstances, on October 7, 1849. And it was in Baltimore that Poe found his first critical success, by winning a short story contest sponsored by the Baltimore Sunday Visiter in 1833. Baltimore was also where Poe was living when he published his first horror story, “Berenice,” in 1835.
Now on view outside the Maryland Historical Society’s H. Furlong Baldwin Library is a rare daguerreotype of Poe, known as the “Painter” Daguerreotype (pictured at top) that was once owned by Poe’s mother-in-law, Maria Clemm.
Even the daguerreotype has its own unique and tragic story. Clemm became homeless after the death of her son-in-law, and she traveled to different cities relying on the kindness of friends for lodging. She always carried the daguerreotype with her. It will be on view through Poe’s birthday weekend.
About The Maryland Historical Society
Founded in 1844, The Maryland Historical Society Museum and Library occupies an entire city block in the Mount Vernon district of Baltimore.
The society’s mission is to “collect, preserve, and interpret the objects and materials that reflect Maryland’s diverse cultural heritage.” The Society is home to the original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner and publishes a quarterly titled “Maryland Historical Magazine.” Visit www.mdhs.org.