the living art of storytelling in Massachusetts
In the works of Edgar Allan Poe, the dead do not often stay dead. Perhaps it is appropriate, then, that the author himself is coming back to life this October for his second annual reading tour at historic cemeteries throughout the northeast. Poe, portrayed by literary historian Rob Velella, will appear at four cemeteries in three states to read from his works, including both prose and poetry, well-known works and obscure ones. Each reading will be unique. Audiences will also have the opportunity to talk with Poe and learn more about his life and works. Performances are appropriate for all ages.
• Monday, October 15 at 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. – Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (Sleepy Hollow, New York) Poe, who spent his final years living outside New York City, returns to the cemetery made famous by one of his favorite authors, Washington Irving. Here, he will read a few works that lie somewhere between horror and humor (much like some of Irving’s own legendary stories). $10 admission. RSVPs recommended (www.sleepyhollowcemetery.org).
• Wednesday, October 17 at 6:30 p.m. – Oakwood Cemetery (Troy, New York) Here in Troy, Rufus Wilmot Griswold – Poe’s greatest enemy – began his career. Poe will discuss his relationship with Griswold, and read some of the works Griswold published – including “Annabel Lee.” $15 admission. Reservations requested: 1-800-556-6273.
• Monday, October 22 at 6:30 p.m. – The Woodlands Cemetery (Philadelphia, PA) Poe’s most prolific years were spent in the City of Brotherly Love, and it was during his time as a Philadelphian that The Woodlands became a cemetery. Poe will read some of the works he published in the city, including one about a black cat that connects to a man buried there. $15 admission.
• Saturday, October 27 at 6:30 p.m. – Mount Auburn Cemetery (Cambridge, MA) Poe will conclude his tour this month close to the city of his birth. Here at America’s first garden cemetery, he will likely discuss his relationship with Boston, as well as the various notable figures buried on the grounds today. $15 admission ($10 for members of the Friends of Mount Auburn).
Rob Velella is an independent literary historian and playwright specializing in American literature of the 19th century. As a scholar, Velella has published articles and presented academic papers on figures as varied as Margaret Fuller, Rufus Griswold, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Walt Whitman. Nicknamed the “Prometheus of American literary scholarship,” he has taken his research outside of academia by lecturing at various historical sites, libraries, and colleges from Pennsylvania to Maine. In addition to Poe, he has dramatically brought to life several other literary figures, including the young Henry Wadsworth, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Velella also maintains the American Literary Blog (http://www.americanliteraryblog.blogspot.com/), an "almost-daily celebration of important (and not-so-important) dates in 19th-century American literary history."