When it comes to my literary appetite, I crave mystery and melancholy — the more the better.
These desires (more like impetuous demands) are intrinsically tied to my adolescent introduction to one of my favorite writers — Edgar Allan Poe.
As a kid born in Baltimore where much of Poe’s legacy remains, my fascination and borderline obsession with the author was experienced in solitude because I grew up in Los Angeles. It wasn’t uncommon for me to want to recite “Annabel Lee” when the other kids were quoting Dr. Seuss rhymes.
I am a neighborhood and community reporter with The Baltimore Banner. I was born in Baltimore, but I spent most of my life on the West Coast. Don’t cancel me yet, though. I’m happy to report that you can now find me permanently in Northeast Baltimore’s neck of the woods, reestablishing my roots and scouring for taco joints. Tacos are one of my love languages.
Poe is one of my favorite writers because his work was before its time. The dark allure and tormented love embedded in his writings is far more accepted now and has created an eclectic pool of fans and followers. As a devout Poe fan for years, I’ve stumbled on a few cool places to visit locally that chronicle Poe’s life and work. I have also gathered select pieces of Poe swag in true fangirl fashion.
Through this list I hope that readers embrace their own quirks and explore other pockets of extensive histories in Baltimore. I also welcome recommendations from other Poe enthusiasts. This list is fluid, so if there’s somewhere else that I need to go or something that I should add to my collection, please feel free to share at firstname.lastname@example.org or 443-608-8983. Story tips unrelated to Poe are also welcome.
Now, back to this Poe-fect list.
Remember that whole mystery element I mentioned earlier? Well, Poe’s death in Baltimore is drenched in uncertainties. Was he mugged? Did he succumb to alcoholism? First seeing his grave in 2013 was unreal, and when I heard about the mysterious Poe Toaster who visited his grave each year, my curiosity and fandom exploded even more. Poe is buried with his wife and mother-in-law at Westminster Hall and Burying Ground at 519 West Fayette Street.
I vividly remember the day I saw this Edgar Allan Poe statue because I scared a woman on the street faster than an Old Bay Seasoning shortage announcement. I squealed and darted toward the statue the second I made out who it was, leaving my family to frantically explain to bystanders that I hadn’t lost my mind. The Edgar Allan Poe statue is in the Gordon Plaza at the University of Baltimore.
The festival coincides with Poe’s death on October 7. Poe Fest is filled with awards and ticketed events, including bus tours, Poe’s House tours and The Black Cat Ball, a Gothic-themed ball. It takes place along Amity Street in Baltimore where the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum is located. I’ve attended almost every year since I came back to the East Coast.
Annabel Lee Tavern is located at 601 S. Clinton Street, adjacent to row homes in Canton. Its namesake comes from an Edgar Allan Poe poem about the long-lost love of a woman, Annabel Lee, who died. The inside walls of the tavern are plum-colored and moody. Their collection of Poe memorabilia puts my wee items to shame. They also have an Edgar Allan Poe drink list. I had the “The Masque of the Red Death,” a short story that involves trying to fend off a plague and, in true Poe fashion, evolves into a sinister plot.
My Edgar Allan Poe lunchbox has proven to be quite the icebreaker even when I am pulling out the most mediocre items for lunch. Per most of my Poe findings, a friend sent me a link to the lunchbox. I’m always getting unsolicited (but immensely appreciated) tips about Poe merchandise and events. Maybe my lunchbox should have been kept on a bookshelf as an unused collectible, but no one puts Poe in a corner. Where are my “Dirty Dancing” fans?
Talented friends — that’s who I credit this gem. My friend in Los Angeles, owner of Cat Scratch Clothing, makes custom apparel and accessories. The process was pretty simple. I found the fabric on Spoonflower and gave her my measurements. She designed the skirt, which also includes a stitching of the word “nevermore” into the waistline.
Gothic-style book of Poe’s work
“The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe” is probably the thickest book I own. It includes many lesser-known writings overshadowed by Poe’s more popular works like “The Raven” or “The Cask of Amontillado.” I received it from my husband on Valentine’s Day several years ago.
Edgar Allan Poe mug
This mug was a gift and has an excerpt from one of Poe’s famous works, “The Raven.” It’s available online. I also have another mug that’s way more colorful.
Airbrushed Edgar Allan Poe backpack
I was able to get airbrush artwork done on a backpack in Long Beach, California. I’m sure there are plenty of Baltimore artists who are able to do something similar.
Nevermore bottle opener
My bottle opener is another Poe Fest snag from one of the many vendors. Did you know there’s also a beer series inspired by Edgar Allan Poe called RavenBeer?