Amanda Gorman, 19, was named the first-ever Youth Poet Laureate of the United States on April 26, 2017. A community leader, activist, and author, the Harvard University sophomore is thoughtful, cadenced, and ambitious – and is looking forward to running for president in 2036. Continue reading “Quote of the Week | Amanda Gorman”
On this day in 1811, Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility was published in three volumes by Thomas Egerton. The book’s initial print run was 750 copies. It sold out within the year. Continue reading “Quote of the Week | Jane Austen”
Picture a graveyard in the middle of night at the start of the Civil War. The year is 1862, the place is a Georgetown cemetery, and the man in the crypt is President Abraham Lincoln, cradling the body of his 11-year-old son, Willie, who has just died of typhoid fever. Surrounded by ghosts, inundated by a “kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voices,” Lincoln stares in the face of one of life’s most difficult questions: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end? Continue reading “Quote of the Week | George Saunders”
On October 14, Richard Wilbur, second Poet Laureate of the United States, passed away at the age of 96. Wilbur worked as a writer for more than 60 years and valued “traditional virtuosity over self-dramatization.” He won his first Pulitzer for the collection Things of This World: Poems, published in 1956 (it also won the National Book Award), and his second Pulitzer for New and Collected Poems, published in 1989. Continue reading “Quote of the Week | Richard Wilbur, Poet Laureate”
October is marked by the conspicuous onslaught of Halloween. Stick-on scarecrows pose brokenly in shop windows. Ghostface masks pop-up in drug stores. Pumpkin spice lattes dilute the otherwise smoky smell of the city.
In books, memoirs and biographies are set aside in favor of more mysterious, macabre materials. To jumpstart preparations for the spooky holiday, our Quote of the Week features the man who “became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.” Ladies and gentleman, Mr. Edgar Allan Poe.
“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” – Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven
Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston to the British actress Elizabeth Arnold Poe and the American actor David Poe, Jr. When he was three, Poe’s mother died of tuberculosis and his father disappeared; he was thereafter raised by the Richmond-based tobacco merchant John Allan and his wife, Frances Valentine. Poe was writing poetry by the age of 13 and – much to his foster-father’s displeasure – liked to write drafts on the back of Allan’s business papers.
After a not-so-successful career in the military, Poe turned to writing full-time. Looking for opportunities, he lived in New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Richmond, publishing poems and short stories. In 1835, he started writing for the Southern Literary Messenger.
Poe made a name for himself writing scathing reviews of his contemporaries’ work. He’s also credited with launching the new genre of detective fiction with “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” published in 1841. His poem “The Raven,” however, published in 1845, is generally agreed to be the piece that made his career. Ironically enough, the “Father of the Detective Story” died under mysterious circumstances on a train to Philadelphia in 1849.
For more Poe, the “The Black Cat” (1843), “The Tell-Tale Heart” (1843), and “Annabel Lee“ (1849) are readily available to read online. The Morgan Library & Museum is also hosting an advance screening of the PBS American Masters documentary film Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive next Friday, October 20, from 7–10pm. Tickets are free with museum admission. You can watch the trailer here:
Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive premieres on the American Masters series Monday, October 30 at 9 pm on THIRTEEN and nationwide on PBS.