Fighting over Edgar Allan Poe’s remains? This weekend the New York Times reported on the “ghoulish argument” between Philadelphia and Baltimore over the scribe’s final resting place. He’s buried in Baltimore, where he lived as a young man and later died under mysterious circumstances during a return visit. Edward Pettit, a Poe scholar in Philadelphia, argues that Poe should be re-buried in the City of Brotherly Love because he wrote some of his most noteworthy works while living there.
On January 13th, Pettit will defend his views during a debate with Jeff Jerome, curator of the Poe House in Baltimore; the debate will be held at the Philadelphia Free Library. Jerome’s response to the suggestion that Poe should forever leave Baltimore? “Philadelphia can keep its broken bell and its cheese steak, but Poe’s body isn’t going anywhere.”
I had the chance to meet Mr. Jerome last fall when he gave me a fascinating tour of the Poe House in Baltimore, Poe’s former residence and one of four literary landmarks devoted to the writer. The others are the Poe National Historic Site in Philadelphia, the Poe Cottage in the Bronx, New York, and the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia. January 19, 2009, is the bicentennial of Edgar Allan Poe’s birth, and celebrations at the sites are being planned.
Whatever the outcome of the debate over Poe’s legacy, it’s great to see a classic literary figure making modern-day headlines. –Shannon McKenna Schmidt