Dead Poets Remembrance Day: A link to lyrical past

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Memorial flowers adorn the grave of Edgar Allan Poe. (Anthony C. Hayes)

Edgar Allan Poe is arguably the most famous poet in American history. Though Boston born, his ties to Baltimore include the publication of his first short story, the house where he lived with his young bride Virginia and her mother, Maria Clemm, the hospital where he died and the place he is buried.

Every year, thousands make a pilgrimage to visit Poe’s house and his grave and in so doing honor both the man and the many writers his efforts inspired.

This week, as Baltimore remembers the death of the author of The Raven, a small group of poets and writers will gather to recall the works of six more area poets from the past.Ogden Nash stamp

Dead Poets Remembrance Day will take place this Monday evening at Poe’s grave in the Westminster Burial Grounds in Baltimore, Maryland. The celebration will be followed by a gathering at a local pub for libations and an open mic, where others are encouraged to share a poem by their favorite Maryland poet.

The Baltimore reading is one of eight such events taking place nationwide this year.

Walter Skold (a.k.a. The Dead Poet Guy) – the chief organizer for the readings – told the Baltimore Post-Examiner the idea for a dead poets day came as a result of a literary experience he had some five years ago.

“After meeting 13 State Poets Laureate on two trips to 23 states in 2009-2010, several of us got to thinking, ‘why wasn’t there a national holiday for our dead poets?’ We came up with the idea of Dead Poets Remembrance Day so that people could gather and read the works of our famous and forgotten poets.”

Now in its fifth year, Skold said in addition to this week’s Baltimore event, celebrations are being held in other locations including Amherst, Philadelphia, Portland, MA and Concord, NH.

“We hope local groups and State Poets Laureate make it an annual tradition.”

“Maryland has a good number of dead poets, from all historical time periods, and this year I let the poets reading choose from the list which ones they liked, or knew. We always try to have a mix of well and lesser-known poets represented. This year in Maryland we have two past State Laureates and a former US Laureate, along with others, who while they were well-known among working writers, are less familiar to the general public.”

Poet CarlaJean Valluzzi will share the poetry of the late Lucille Clifton.
Poet CarlaJean Valluzzi will share the poetry of the late Lucille Clifton.

Featured readers for the Baltimore celebration are:

>Ned Balbo – the poetry of former US Poet Laureate, Josephine Jacobsen

>Jane Satterfield – the work of Baltimorean Michael Egan.

>CarlaJean Valluzzi – the work of former Maryland Poet Laureate, Lucille Clifton.

>Virginia Crawford and Sam Schmidt – the work of former Maryland Poet Laureate Roland Flint

>Clarinda Harriss – the poetry of Ogden Nash

>Lorraine Whittlesey – the poetry of David Franks

Those wishing to bring memorial flowers or pennies for Poe may do so.

Also on tap – Jeff Jerome, Curator Emeritus of the Edgar Allan Poe House Museum, will give a special presentation on Poe’s grave and the people who flock to visit it.

This event is free and open to the public.

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The 2014 Maryland celebration of Dead Poets Remembrance Day will take place Monday October 6, at 6:00pm at the grave of Edgar Allan Poe. Poe’s grave is located in the Westminster Burial Grounds, 515 West Fayette Street, Baltimore, Maryland. The celebration will be held rain or shine, followed at 7:30pm by a gathering in Hampden at Frazier’s On The Avenue for libations and an open mic for poetry. Additional information may be found online by visiting Dead Poets Remembrance Day and Maryland Dead Poets.