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Friday, September 9, 2011

This Week in Literary History: Another Round for Poe

We’ll begin our trip into history by revisiting the renowned Edgar Allan Poe. By September of 1835 Poe had become the assistant editor of the auspicious Southern Literary Messenger based out of Richmond, Virginia. But that position quickly changed, due to Poe’s drinking habits, when the owner T.H White fired him. But leave it to Poe, writer extraordinaire, to get sober, speak to T.H White about his job, get rehired, and by December 1835, get promoted to the position of Editor with the Messenger.

T.H. White wrote in a letter that: “Poe . . . I rejoice to tell you, still keeps from the Bottle.” And there was much rejoicing in literary circles as well. Poe stayed on as the editor of the Messenger for two years. When his tenure was over he was said to say that when he began at the messenger there were 700 subscribers, when he left there were 5,500 subscribers. Way to go Poe! And best of all while he was the Messenger he developed a reputation of being a “tomahawk” critic, which seems like a fitting moniker.

So in honor of Poe I would suggest picking up the latest HFR. Start with “Two Resting Blackbirds” by Holly Simonsen, then work your way through the rest of the submissions. Prepare to be regaled by, sometimes dark, thought provoking stories and poetry. Also in fine Poe tradition pick up the latest issue of Colorado Review, Summer 2011, and partake of “Creatures of a Day” by Barry Pearce. The story got me thinking of Poe’s “Ligeria,” who made her way into the cannon of literature in September 1838. What a strange enchantress she is, the other woman who lingers in a man’s thoughts.

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