January 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Poe And Good Luck In The AFC Championship Game

Today is the birthday of Edgar Allan Poe, one of America's first and foremost writers of poems, novels and really scary short stories.  Poe was always one of my favorite authors as a kid, mainly for the creepiness of his tales but also for the fact that he was a fellow Marylander too.  Poe is strongly identified with Baltimore, where he spent a lot of his adult life and, most infamously, died on October 7, 1849, a few days after being found on a city street.

What many people don't know is that Poe spent the last years of his life in New York City, not Baltimore. In fact, he lived just a couple blocks from my apartment in the Village but then moved way uptown for quieter times in what was then "the country" but soon would became known as "The Bronx." There is a detailed article on the Bowery Boys website about Poe's final home on what is now the Grand Concourse (which I've previously blogged about on a library visit to the Kingsbridge Branch).

Finally, Poe's stories live on today to scare new generations of schoolchildren. But his legacy is also, strangely enough, a part of the National Football League. Baltimore's football team was named "The Ravens" (after Poe's classic poem) in a fan contest back in 1996.  They remain, now and probably forever, the only U.S. sports team inspired by a literary figure.  (Though "The Gatsbys" would be a swell name for the new Brooklyn NBA team.)  This weekend, Poe's team will be battling it out with the New England Patriots for the AFC title. Oddly enough, Poe's birthplace is actually Boston but I doubt he'll have many fans rooting him in Foxborough. We can only imagine what Poe might think of our modern day Gladiators doing battle for the glory of his Raven...and ol' Baltimore too.

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