Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Original Baltimore Raven

Capitalism screws over Edgar Allan Poe (from Wikipedia):
Poe first brought "The Raven" to his friend and former employer George Rex Graham of Graham's Magazine in Philadelphia. Graham declined the poem, which may not have been in its final version, though he gave Poe $15 as charity. Poe then sold the poem to The American Review, which paid him $9 for it, and printed "The Raven" in its February 1845 issue under the pseudonym "Quarles"...

In part due to its dual printing, "The Raven" made Edgar Allan Poe a household name almost immediately, and turned Poe into a national celebrity. Readers began to identify poem with poet, earning Poe the nickname "The Raven". The poem was soon widely reprinted, imitated, and parodied. Though it made Poe popular in his day, it did not bring him significant financial success. As he later lamented, "I have made no money. I am as poor now as ever I was in my life – except in hope, which is by no means bankable"
Again (from Salon):
Are the Ravens responsible for the fall of the house of Edgar Allan Poe?
The city of Baltimore — and the Ravens — rely on their most famous writer's legacy. And they're letting it crumble

From the look of it, even book nerds are being drawn to this year’s Super Bowl, with the second-time appearance of the Ravens, America’s only football team named after a poem, Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.” For many in the literary crowd, there may be no better team to root for, because there’s nothing more surprising than an American sports team paying homage to a literary icon.

There are many layers to the Ravens’ literary allusion. There’s the fact that the team’s mascot is a collective of three black ravens respectively named Edgar, Allan and Poe. There’s the fact that the Ravens play less than a mile down the street from where Edgar Allan Poe is buried at Westminster Burial Ground. Then there’s the uncomfortable knowledge that the Ravens’ star player, Ray Lewis, was implicated in a double murder. Not to make light of murder, but on a team named after America’s first star horror writer, in a city where they peddle little Eddie Poe dolls next to Ravens’ jerseys in gift shops, it seems apro-Poe.

At first, my response as a voracious reader and Edgar Allan Poe fan with absolutely no interest in football is to join others in delight of this piece of barely literary trivia. But this year there is something unsettling in the Ravens’ appropriation of Poe and his poem for what has been a surprisingly strong and fast brand building of a football empire. This year, Edgar Allan Poe’s own association with Baltimore is threatened: The city unceremoniously closed the Edgar Allan Poe House at the end of September 2012 and laid off the Poe house’s longtime director, Jeff Jerome, who has successfully operated the house on a shoestring budget, in a dangerous part of town, keeping it open and safe to visitors for decades. Not long after the Poe House closed, it was vandalized.

The Ravens’ lack of interest thus far in supporting the city’s literary legacy is a travesty. But the City of Baltimore’s privatization of the Poe House is even more so, particularly when considering the investment it made in bringing a national football team to town. The city afforded the Ravens, but it can’t seem to afford to properly staff and run a small house that draws several thousand new tourists to Baltimore a year?
Through incompetence and malignant neglect, the City of Baltimore is now doing to the little row house where Poe began his literary career exactly what Rufus Griswold tried to do to Poe's literary legacy.

Then again, while it is true that Poe created some of the finest and most enduring fiction in American literature, helped refined the short story to an art form, wrote one of the English language's the most famous poems and framed out what we now know as the detective genre, it is also true that he can't pump fake the defense out of its shoes and then hit a receiver running a quick slant.  So fuck him.


Bob Munck said...

a collective of three black ravens

The term is "An unkindness of ravens." A "conspiracy" is also used, but I'm sure the 49ers would choose the former term.

Bisham said...

As I ponder weak and weary
All I want is to breathe
oh whither do my thoughts rove?
Amoung the leaves so green-o

Suzan said...

And they did.

As a former Baltimore resident I gasped when I heard that they fired Jerome, whose efforts to keep the Poe House and EAP's memory alive were so heartwarming to lovers of literature and one who could perhaps be said to have been a true American original.

Now I need to go place another rose on his grave.