The first time I came into contact with the works of Edgar Allan Poe was the gruesome day of the tacks. My older cousin, Kevin, carefully plotted to play a trick on me. Strategically he arranged an entire box of brass tacks upwards on the floor so that the pointy spikes glinted heavenwards. He yelled for me urgently and my ten year old self ran heavily into the room barefoot. The screams were loud and many tears flowed as Kevin had to shakily remove the embedded spikes. As an apology and in a hopeful bid to buy my silence he told me to pick a book from his shelf to keep. Kevin knew I was already a dedicated, fully fledged bookworm. My eyes scanned the spines of each book excitedly. I remember seeing a lot of Terry Pratchett books and The Hobbit. My eyes finally settled upon Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe. I had never read any Poe and now the book still sits on my shelf. It is well worn, continuously revisited and serves as a reminder never to walk around barefoot.
I was saddened to read recently that the Poe House and Museum in Baltimore was vandalized. Having lost its curator when it was closed last September a number of incidents have raised concern. Since the closure reports that the front steps have been stolen and the exterior has been defaced with graffiti have emerged. However, hope is on the horizon with local groups pulling together to come up with a way to make the building self sufficient. Poe Baltimore, a nonprofit organization, is aiming to take over the operational issues entailed in maintaining the museum. They will also endeavor to raise the annual operating budget. I can’t stress how important it is to keep museums like this alive. To be able to see how and where great authors worked can give us an insight into the context of their writings. These places aren’t simply shrines they are architectural educational tools. They are present history. They are places that must be visited and revisited time and time again. They must be cherished as artifacts as much as the treasures they house.