October 7, 2015 marked 166 years since the passing of Edgar Allan Poe.
A lot of people may ask why so many celebrate or remember an author who has been dead for so long. His memory certainly endures, but mainly I think because of the mysterious nature of his death. The unanswered nature of Poe’s death sadly has become his legacy rather than his writing and this to me is the greatest literary tragedy of all.
I first read Poe’s work in university while I was studying journalism. I remember it distinctly because it was what sparked my zest for writing. The story I read was The Fall of the House of Usher. It was bleak, morbid and morose, but it was beautiful. There was such passion in Poe’s story. Death and terror suddenly had a romantic quality. Poe invoked feelings and imagery with just a few lines, a few words. Immediately I wanted to read more of his work and it wasn’t long before I tracked down a copy of Tales of Mystery and Imagination. But even more importantly Poe inspired me to write tales of my own. There’s no doubt that every horror author has been touched by Edgar Allan Poe. Greats like H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King and Clive Barker have all named Poe as a source of inspiration.
One hundred and sixty-six years after his death, Poe’s legacy does live on, with his former residences transformed into museums and memorials. I hope to visit these places one day, not as a fan, but a fellow writer. Poe’s life was a very difficult one and his death, but his passion for writing and seeing the beauty in death is something that I will always be thankful for, both as a reader and an author.
If you have never read any of Poe’s works, you can read many of them at PoeStories.com. I think I’ll revisit The Fall of the House of Usher in my 1979 Octopus edition of Edgar Allan Poe: Forty-Two Tales, which is gorgeously illustrated by Harry Clarke.
In 2011, I published a free collection of some of my short stories, including my tribute piece to Poe, entitled Patrick Oswald Edwards. You can download it HERE.
Here’s an art piece I created last year depicting Poe and some of his more famous stories.
Rest in Peace Mr. Poe.