It was a glorious day for a funeral/celebration and not at all gloomy as one might expect for the great Poe. There were two services, the first taking 2 1/2 hours, the second slightly shorter. Fifteen people people spoke including Poe's former fiance Sarah Helen Whitman, Poe's friend George Lippard, the man who ruined Poe's reputation for many years, The Rev. Rufus Griswold (who was hissed from the podium after his inappropriate and false remarks about the dead man), Charles Baudelaire, Walt Whitman, H. P. Lovecraft (who read from the Necronomicon and then translated what he read for for mourners), and a few living persons, such as myself and artist Gris Grimly. John Astin graciously presided over the proceedings.
There was wonderful music: a violin soloist, a solo singer, a men's chorale. There was drama: George Lippard tossed a cup of water at the nasty Griswold, the narrator of the Tell-Tale Heart appeared mysteriously to have his say.
There's been coverage all over the media. I've seen a video on the BBC that has a tiny snippet of me in the far left corner for a second. I think there will be more videos and photos online soon.
Here are the photos from my camera--most not taken by me but by Kris Dikeman). Scott Edelman has taken some too -Kris was a the 12:30 service. Scott at the 4:30. I got home around 12:30 am last night.
Here are photos:
Poe proceedings, backstage on onstage and Scott Edelman's much better photos
For those interested, here's my eulogy:
My first experience of Edgar Allan Poe’s writing was his poem “The Bells.” I was a child and I loved the rhyme and repetition. It was great fun to just recite it aloud. I grew up in the Bronx near a tiny Dutch cottage called Poe Cozy Nook, and right around the time I was first introduced to Poe’s works, my mother took me to that cottage for a visit. I later learned it was where he mourned the loss of his beloved wife Virginia, and wrote “Ulalume” and “Annabel Lee.”
Later, I read more of his poems and stories. They frightened yet thrilled me, setting me on a course I’ve never regretted-- I became a horror reader and editor. Although he never received the respect (or money) he deserved for his prose and poetry while he was alive, I believe Poe would be gratified to know that since his death his influence on the arts has been pervasive. He was the important American writer for the French decadent poets Baudelaire, Verlaine and Rimbaud. At a recent exhibition of one of my favorite artists, the Belgian surrealist James Ensor, Poe’s echoes were everywhere, with Ensor illustrating scenes from "The Vengeance of Hop-Frog, “The Black Cat,” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Over the years he's also inspired artists such as Fritz Eichenberg, Edmund Dulac, and Harry Clarke-- I can barely think of Tales of Mystery and the Imagination without seeing Clarke’s rich, gothic illustrations.
Poe’s brilliance is now recognized, appreciated, and read all over the world.
Writers ranging from Joyce Carol Oates to newcomers such as E. Catherine Tobler and John Langan have re-imagined Mr. Poe’s mysterious last days. Oates has also written a story of vengeance called “The White Cat,” a sort of mirror to Poe’s “The Black Cat.” The Mystery Writers of America calls its award the 'Edgars' in honor of our hero.
To celebrate the bicentennial of Edgar Allan Poe’s birth, I edited an anthology of all-new science fiction, fantasy, and horror tales inspired by Poe. One of the weirdest, is by British film critic and fiction writer Kim Newman, who has written about one Walter Paisley, an actor’s agent whose biggest client is Boomba the Chimp. In 1959, hoping to get his client work, he shows a cheap paperback of Tales of Mystery and Imagination to movie maker Roger Corman, and voila! In Newman’s story, you’ve got a series of Poe movies starring Vincent Price and other classy-sounding British actors, with scripts written by Richard Matheson. They make Fall of the House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, Morella, The Black Cat, Masque of the Red Death--recycling sets and plots and sometimes the actors …well-- you get the picture. Finally, as Hollywood will, the industry becomes bored with Poe and moves on to H. P. Lovecraft. Yet…something happens. At the big preview, instead of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Curse of Charles Dexter Ward … what should appear on the screen, but Edgar Allan Poe’s The Haunted Palace... And the Poe plague begins.
Soon all beach pictures bear the mark of Poe -- Buried Alive Bikini, Beach Blanket Berenice, Muscle Beach Met zen gur stein. “Annette spends more time in a shroud than a bathing suit, with a black cat entombed in her beehive hairdo. Rod Usher takes over the Hells’ Angels, wearing a studded velvet jacket and a floppy-tasseled cap, and complains that the revving of bikes is torture to his over-sensitive ears….
The curse is complete when movie theaters book The Sound of Music as a roadshow attraction and get The Sound of Meowing. In vast, empty, decaying haunted picture palaces across the land, Julie Andrews climbs ragged mountains and pokes around a basement only to find that Captain von Trapp (played by Vincent Price) has walled up his wife along with her noisy cat. At the end, Austria burns down.”
Ultimately in Newman’s story, the plague takes over all media and the whole wide world--and isn’t that fitting for the great Edgar Allan Poe.
Edgar, you've touched so many people--I’m just one of them. Rest in peace, my dear.
- The Funeral (that should have been) for Edgar Allan Poe