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The International Edgar Allan Poe Festival and Awards honors the “father of gothic fiction”

Baltimore’s favorite gothic writer, Edgar Allan Poe, is being honored this weekend at The International Edgar Allan Poe Festival and Awards in front of the very house he had resided in. Poe serves as a symbol for the city, and his legacy attracts visitors from all over the country and world to Baltimore.

Even years after his death, Poe still influences modern society with his works. Enrica Jang, director of Poe Baltimore, the nonprofit association responsible for managing the Edgar Allan Poe house, explains Poe’s strong relevance in Baltimore, “I feel that Poe had a tragic life but also great strength, and he’s very intelligent and funny, inviting, kind of cunning sometimes, so the persona of his writing and the things that he had to overcome in life I think sort of identifies with the city very well.”

Jang describes Poe’s writing as enjoyable at any age due to its eerie and unpredictable nature. However, most people are able to return to Poe’s writing as adults and find new, greater themes around love, pain and other ideas. This creates a bond between Poe and the reader. Poe’s distinct writing withstands time by connecting generations. Jang states, “I think that Poe wrote about the primal subject, and he did it in a way that was very unique at the time toward speaking from first-person … That’s why Poe stays evergreen.”

The International Edgar Allan Poe Festival and Awards rewards Poe’s “evergreen” legacy by hosting 30 vendors and organizations as well as various events inspired by the author for literary and horror lovers alike to enjoy. Activities include The Black Cat Ball, a Poe Funeral Re-enactment and the greatly anticipated Saturday ‘Visiter’ Awards. 

The Poe Funeral Re-enactment takes visitors on a tour through Poe’s home and history. The tour explores Poe’s extremely mysterious death that haunts Baltimore to this day. The reenactment features an entire Death Weekend exhibit, consistent of a candlelight vigil and an interactive art piece depicting Poe in a casket, ready for visitors to approach and pay their respects. This event is a hit and sold out tickets at last year’s festival.

The new Saturday Visiter Awards are a homage to the event recognized as the beginning of Poe’s success. Poe, having newly moved to Baltimore, won a local writing contest with his piece, “Manuscript Found in a Bottle.” He earned $50, along with the launching of his professional career. 

The International Edgar Allan Poe Festival and Awards’ version mimics the contest Poe had won, calling artists and writers to submit their pieces inspired by Poe as well as adaptations of Poe’s work. The festival presents the best pieces and awards one contestant, you guessed it, $50.

The festival, although inspired by Poe’s impression on Baltimore, is for those trying to make impressions of their own. Jang encourages, “The purpose and intention of the festival is to celebrate that legacy [of Poe] and to continue to honor the artists who are inspired by him.”

Join Baltimore in remembering renowned writer Edgar Allan Poe at this year’s International Edgar Allan Poe Festival and Awards, held on Oct. 5 and 6 at 203 N. Amity Street in Baltimore.

Photo credit: Poe Funeral Re-enactment attendees can visit an exhibit featuring Edgar Allan Poe. Photo by Kathryn Dulny.