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Edgar Allan Poe Brought to Life in Staten Island Reading Series

By Nicholas Rizzi | September 25, 2013 9:17am
 Staten Island OutLOUD will host readings and events on the varied works of the horror author.
Staten Island OutLOUD's Edgar Allan Poe "Bid Read"
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STATEN ISLAND —The life and work of Edgar Allan Poe is being explored from the writer's Bronx home, a Staten Island courthouse — and a local tattoo parlor.

Staten Island OutLOUD will base its latest "Big Read" series of performances and events throughout the fall on the works of the writer best known for the narrative poem "The Raven" and short story "The Tell-Tale Heart."

The group received its third consecutive National Endowment for the Arts award to host the series, and picked Poe from a list of authors because of his popularity with attendees of previous events, said Beth Gorrie, executive director of Staten Island OutLOUD.

"For various reasons, Poe has a strong draw on people's imagination," Gorrie said.

"We've done Poe from time to time but people kept asking for it and it's the season when you kind of enjoy Gothic material."

From September through November, the group will hold over 25 events related to the writer's work. They'll include a visit to Poe's home in the Bronx, a reading of the "The Masque of the Red Death" at a tattoo parlor and a performance art piece on "The Raven."

And aside from the macabre stories Poe's well known for, the "Big Read" series will focus on other work from the prolific author, including his sound poetry, philosophy writings and work as a crime reporter.

"His work is so much broader," Gorrie said. "He really was a deeply educated writer. He was well ahead of his time."

On Oct. 6, the group will look into one of the stories Poe wrote while a crime reporter that took place on Staten Island, Gorrie said.

Poe covered the notorious murder trial of Polly Bodine, called the "Witch of Staten Island" in the papers, which inspired his story "The Mystery of Marie Rogêt."

The group will recount Bodine's story in the courthouse where her trial was held in Historic Richmond Town, with the Staten Island Women's Bar Association, an historian who wrote a book about murders in Staten Island, and a defense attorney.

"We're going to cover a lot of things here, we're going to look at how the criminal procedure developed," Gorrie said. "They'll get a multi disciplinary report on journalism and food for thought on how far we've come and haven't come."

The group's annual "Big Read" series of events mostly host readings around the borough as a way to get people from different backgrounds talking face to face, and not in front of a computer screen.

"It's a chance for people to really connect and really share," Gorrie said. "Nobody's sitting there texting, it's the spoken word and conversations done the old fashion way."