He may no longer be the man in charge of Edgar Allan Poe's Baltimore legacy, but Jeff Jerome remains one of the best friends America's original master of the macabre ever had.
At 4 p.m. Saturday, he'll serve as host for "Talking about Poe: Lord Help My Poor Soul!," Baltimore's commemoration of the 165th anniversary of Poe's death. And last weekend, he was in Boston, Poe's birthplace, for the unveiling of a new statue of Poe near Boston Common.
The statue, several years in the making, depicts the famed author and poet in full stride, heading away from the center of the city toward his birthplace on nearby Carver Street. He's carrying an open briefcase, out of which is tumbling symbols of Poe's literary career, including a raven and a human heart. He seems to be in a rush, and doesn't look especially happy. (Not surprising, perhaps. He rarely had much good to say about Boston or its inhabitants, especially its literary elite, who didn't think much of him, either.)
"I wasn't that impressed with the statue at first," Jerome writes in an email, "but when I saw it 'in person,' I knew it was the best choice. The statue is defiantly personal. It's right in your face, which is what they wanted."
Still, it comes a cropper when compared to what we have in Baltimore, Jerome assures. "I must admit that I'm still partial to the Poe statue that Baltimore has on the campus of the University of Baltimore," he says. "As far as I'm concerned, it's the best solid image of Poe around anywhere."
Anyone wanting to question Jerome personally about his visit to Boston will have the chance Saturday. "Lord Help My Poor Soul!" begins at Poe's grave, in the Westminster Hall Burying Grounds at Fayette and Greene streets. Also on hand will be Don Mullins, Tony Tsendeas and Matthew Bowerman, who will lead an afternoon of readings from Poe's work and letters, as well as from newspaper articles relating to his death in Baltimore, under circumstances that have never been fully explained, on Oct. 7, 1849.
(Maybe we should hope for rain Saturday afternoon. For if it rains, the ceremony will be moved to the catacombs underneath Westminster Hall. Wethinks Poe would like that.)