MOUNT VERNON — Rising from his Washington College Hospital bed, Edgar Allan Poe — aka Jim Stoner — talked to students at Mount Vernon High School in a Chautauqua outreach program on Wednesday.
The date was Oct. 5, 1849, and the place was Baltimore, Md. Poe, one of the earliest short story writers and said to be the inventor of the detective fiction genre, told the students about the life events that made him what he was. He spoke about the dark corners of his mind, and how he wrote stories of darkness, murder and mayhem to overcome the blackness.
“I challenge you to look at the dark corners of your mind and harness it,” he told the students. “Don’t allow the darkness to defeat you.”
Poe read a poem to illustrate how alone he felt when those close to him died, and then recited excerpts from “The Raven,” a work designed to be “the greatest poem of all time.”
Parts of “The Raven” poem and biographical data about Poe were used in an original song written and performed by Mike Petee to introduce the session.
The students seemed to be engaged throughout the performance which was followed by a question-and-answer period with Stoner answering students’ questions both in the Poe persona and as himself.
Student Samantha Macrunick, who likes all of Poe’s works, said the program was good. She liked learning about Poe’s early life, his marriage to his own cousin and his relationship with his parents and stepparents. She also enjoyed the “live” interaction with Poe.