Monday, March 26, 2012

The Ever-Present Impact of Poe's THE RAVEN

by Julia Buckley
Fascination with Poe and his works continues to beget other works. The latest is The Raven, a film starring John Cusack. The movie poster's slogan reads: "The only one who can stop a serial killer is the man who inspired him." That's right: a madman is loose on the streets of Baltimore, and a young detective must join forces with Poe in order to stop more stories from becoming reality.

The premise is interesting, and it was inevitable that Hollywood creatives would try to mine Poe in the same way that they have borrowed from Shakespeare, Austen, and other literary greats to create new texts. I'm not sure if I'll see the movie, since it has potential to be violent and gory, but I'll be curious to see the public's response to a film inspired by Poe.

We've written about Poe here before--his life, his works, his environment, his demons--and even our blog borrows his name, since he is credited with writing the first detective story. There's no doubt that the man continues to generate interest and reverence long after his death.

In honor of this latest tribute to Poe, I dug up my own tribute to "The Raven," posted last year in our "spend a day with Poe" blog, and I thought it might be fitting to share it here. It deals not with a potentially mad narrator bemoaning the loss of Lenore, but instead with an obsessed author, fearing the rejection of an agent.  It seemed apropos.  :)

The Craven

by Julia Buckley (with apologies to Poe)

"Once upon a keyboard dreary, while I slaved over a query
Which I’d send to many an agent in the hopes of being loved,
While I tried out various phrasings, paired with chocolate-peanut grazings,
And repeated small appraisings of the words upon my screen—
Suddenly there came a dawning, in a spurt of endless yawning
That my query sounded fawning—those damned words upon the screen—
“Sycophant,” I grumbled, giving up and feeling mean.

Oh, how clearly I’m recalling that sad query, most appalling
Of all queries fearless feckless fools had ever fawned before;
While I sat, bereft and quaking, all my soul within me aching—
Knowing I would not be staking my profession on a query such as this . . .
Then I came to my decision—this required vast revision,
And significant excision! So I grabbed my bowl of peanuts
And I sat upon the floor . . .
Eating fast and eating faster, nearing gluttonous disaster
I consumed my chocolate comrades and ignored the evil screen.

To this day you can still find me, with some Fannie Mae and Chablis
On the padded carpet under the computer in my room
And the words continue mocking, in an endless writer’s blocking
And my brain continues knocking in my head amidst the gloom—
And I never shall be freed
Unless—perhaps a nom de plume?"


Sandra Parshall said...

I don't think Poe will ever be forgotten, just as Sherlock Holmes will live forever. At the Virginia Festival of the Book over the weekend, I spotted Poe bookmarks being offered at a gift shop table and grabbed all they had left, half a dozen. I still have some Poe postage stamps -- can't bring myself to use all of them.

Julia Buckley said...

He does make a good icon for merchandise. :)

JJM said...

"At the Virginia Festival of the Book over the weekend ... " Did you have a chance to wander over to UVa and see the room where Poe lived when he was a student there? West Range, #13 (appropriately). Back when I still lived in Charlottesville, only a low metal railing jutting into the room separated the visitor from the room itself. I strongly suspect that's changed by now. One of the window panes still bears some lines of poetry he'd etched onto it.

[A bit of research later] The pane was removed to the Rotunda, and the doorway of the room is now covered with glass.


Susan Oleksiw said...

Poe is one of the few writers I enjoy reading over and over, just to enjoy how he does it. But he certainly had a miserable life for the most part. I wonder what he'd make of all the attention now.

Julia Buckley said...

JJM--How amazing it would be to see that in person. Like being with Poe's ghost.

Susan--an interesting question! I wonder if Poe could handle the psychology of fame.