Poe / After Poe Series: A Look Back

The Poe / After Poe Forum Series at the University of Maine at Farmington was inspired by the 200th anniversary this year of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809). With numerous events and activities taking place from September through November, the Poe / After Poe series not only celebrated Poe as a major American author but also celebrated the continuing creativity Poe has inspired—art, writing, and performance that is “After Poe.”

The first Poe / After Poe event was a presentation by Dr. Scott Peeples. Dr. Peeples, College of Charleston, is a Poe scholar, author of two books on Poe, Edgar Allan Poe Revisited and The Afterlife of Edgar Allan Poe, and he is currently co-editor of the journal Poe Studies.  His presentation,“That Wasn’t in the Book . . . : How Movies Made Poe the Master of the Macabre,” looked at the vexed history of Poe on film and examined how Poe adaptations, by focusing on only one element of his varied career as a writer, satirist, and editor, have contributed to this popular image of the macabre Poe.

The presentation was followed by a reading later in the evening at Devaney, Doak, and Garrett Booksellers in downtown Farmington, where several people read excerpts from their favorite Poe stories for an appreciative crowd.

Dr. Scott Peeples reads from “The Angel of the Odd” at Devaney, Doak, and Garrett Booksellers in Farmington.

One of the highlights of the series was the month-long “After Poe: Works of Mystery and Imagination” exhibit at the UMF Art Gallery. Featuring the works of artists Julia Bykowski, Christin Couture, Shain Erin, Robert Gregory Griffeth, Kym Hepworth, Melissa Kulig, Debe Loughlin, Nancy Milliken, Petrea Noyes, Stacey Page and Robin Stein, the exhibition was a tribute to the spirit of Poe’s work.

Shain Erin’s mummified dolls were a popular feature of the exhibit

And, the exhibit even featured its own ghostly haunting:

Another highlight of the series was a special screening of a new film, Edgar Allan Poe’s Annabel Lee.

Edgar Allan Poe’s Annabel Lee is currently being shown only at film festivals, and we were fortunate not only to have the opportunity to screen it before its general release but also to have writer and director Michael Rissi join us as well for question and answer sessions before and after the film.

Michael Johnson and Michael Rissi at the reception (held at the UMF Art Gallery) before the screening of Annabel Lee

Click here to read Michael Johnson’s review of Edgar Allan Poe’s Annabel Lee.

And, of course, there were lots more events in the series. Below is a gallery of photographs documenting the wide range of activities that took place during the Poe / After Poe University Forum Series.

It may not have been midnight, but it was certainly dreary: about 40 people gathered in a rainstorm at noon to commemorate the anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s death (October 7, 1849)  with a group recitation of “The Raven.”

A detail from Mantor Library’s Edgar Allan Poe display.

We held a Just the Scary Parts reading (selections—“just the scary parts”—from literary tales of terror and suspense) in the UMF Art Gallery, with the artwork from the After Poe exhibit providing the appropriate atmosphere. Here,  Professor Beck reads a spine-tingling tale of . . . raccoons.

Frank and Teresa Roberts performed “Spirits of the Dead: A Poe Reader’s Theatre,” which included a memorable reading of “The Tell-Tale Heart” (complete with audience participation!)

A Roundtable Discussion of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” led by UMF literature professors Dan Gunn, Ann Kennedy, Michael Johnson, Sabine Klein, Misty Beck, Christine Darrohn, and Eric Brown, and joined by one enraged orangutan (not pictured).

The final event in the Poe/After Poe Series was the reading of the winning stories submitted to the Compo(e)sitions contest. The four readers treated the audience to a creepy and sometimes suspenseful hour of Poe-inspired short fiction.

First Prize went to Nathaniel Brehmer (Junior, Creative Writing) for “Revelations in the Rue Morgue”

The other winning entries were:

Laura Jennings (Senior, Creative Writing) for “The Immortal”

Ted Gill (Junior, English Education) for “The Ocean of Darkness”

Emma Deans (Junior, Creative Writing) for “Impressions”


~ by Michael K. Johnson on November 25, 2009.

One Response to “Poe / After Poe Series: A Look Back”

  1. Our favorite poe story is The Pit and the Pendulum because it starts out as a normal poe story with the conviction of an innocent man, and that mans torture, but ends in a twist where the man is saved from death.

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