Sunday morning Danielle sped through yet another 5K race in Cambridge; you can read all about it on her blog. Of course, as the official companion reader and advocate of square deals, it’s my duty to tell you about our next stop after she crossed the finish line.
Sunday also marked the triumphant return of Edgar Allen Poe to the city of his birth, by way of a commemorative statue by sculptor Stephanie Rocknak. Poe’s relationship with the city of Boston has been strenuous to say the least, with little love between Poe and the literary community at the time (largely made up of the “so called” transcendentalist writers such as Emerson, Thoreau, and Longfellow), but it’s wonderful to see Boston finally celebrate the critic/author/poet in a manner fitting of his enduring legacy. After all, Poe’s influence is world renown, and unbound by artistic format; everything from writing and music to the Legend of Zelda.
The statue, cast in bronze and situated in the newly christened “Poe Square” (intersection of Boylston St. and Charles St.) is steeped in meaning. Poe himself is life-sized representative of the man, while his works are “larger than life,” represented by the giant Raven perched on his suitcase.
The statue is positioned away from the nearby Arlington Station to mimic Poe’s return trip to the City, while Poe faces the direction of his birth house (and away from the Frog Pond, which his contemporaries frequented; he actually referred to them as “frogpondians”). His suitcases are also shown bursting with his ideas, adorned with a signature heart, a token from his famous A Tell-Tale Heart. As an aside; I do like that the statue offers an acknowledgement to both a poem and a short story.
Additional papers, poems, and stories from his suitcase also litter the walkway behind him, offering select quotes set into the brick for passersby to read.
To commemorate the occasion, a series of readings were held at the Park Plaza hotel; some poetry, some excerpts, and some work even set to music. A highlight of the ceremony was a performance of The City in the Sea by the Planetary Quartet, narrated by independent scholar and noted Poe look-a-like Rob Velella. I grabbed a photo with him later on.
Sculptor Stephanie Rocknak also walked us through the creation process, from wooden mock-up (which Danielle and I got to see in person last year), to the digitally enlarged foam and plaster molds, to the final constructed piece, along with the support system inside.
For the unveiling of the statue, additional readings were offered by former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, along with Eoin F. Cannon; speech writer for Mayor Walsh (the Mayor himself also showed up a little later in the day).
It was exciting to be a part of the ceremony. I’ve always held a personal attachment to Poe, ever since my College thesis project examining his works through the perspective of an unreliable narrator, balancing psychological trauma with supernatural vampires (long story). Plus, I’ve always wanted to get Edgar Allen Poe in a headlock; that thing’s like a pumpkin. (side note: Venture Bros is returning this Spring).
To complete the day, Danielle and I headed to lunch at the Rattlesnake Bar & Grill; home of “Poe’s Kitchen” (though named for the chef, not the author). All in all, it was a terrific celebration. Congratulations to Ms. Rocknak and the Edgar Allen Poe Foundation of Boston for completing the project, and welcome home to Edgar Allen Poe!