The Big Read Blog (Archive)

A Report from the Field

Washington, DC

Members of the Attleboro Historic Preservation Society don period garb for a rainy but rousing reading of poetry by Edgar Allan Poe. Photo courtesy Attleboro Public Library.

Attleboro Public Library is one of two dozen organizations across the country that are turning to the poems and stories of Edgar Allan Poe during the 2009-2010 Big Read. Project Co-chair Victor Bonneville filed this report from the field, which proves that even inclement weather's no match for intrepid Big Readers! (Thanks to Joan Pilkington-Smyth for sending in pix and keeping us posted on APL's Big Read activities.)

Our cemetery walk was advertised as "Poe in Love," with readings of Poe's poetry to and from Sarah Helen Whitman.  The concept was to meander around the Kirk Burial Ground, which is one of Attleboro's oldest burial grounds and is located behind the Second Congregational Church.  Ted Moxham from the church would provide some background about the burial ground and select six stones of interest to discuss.  At each stone I would give some information regarding Poe's romance with Sarah Helen Whitman of Providence, Rhode Island.  (We had recently done a Poe Walk in Providence, visiting Sarah's house and the Providence Athenaeum where Poe and Sarah met.)

This would be followed by Poe's poems "Spirits of the Dead," "Annabel Lee," "To Helen," "Our Island of Dreams," and Walt Whitman's "Lines."  The concluding poem would be "Alone."  Since Poe proposed to Sarah in a cemetery and because both were fascinated by death and the afterlife, we thought the site was an appropriate setting for poetry among the gravestones.  Alas, the weather failed to cooperate.  With northeast winds and rain outside, we had to move the event into the church where the program was held minus the gravestone and the cemetery setting!  The readers were all members of the Attleboro Historic Preservation Society, which hosted the event as part of its monthly meeting.  Poe's poetry was also read by Brian Kirby, a city councilor.

Browse The Big Read calendar to find out where people are talking about Poe somewhere near you!

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