Poe party continues Thursday with cemetery reading

Literary historian Rob Velella performs as Edgar Allan Poe in Boston, Poe’s birthplace, during last year’s Boston Poetry Marathon. (Image: ChiefFallingLeaf)

If you knew the anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s death was Friday and already planned to hear Wednesday’s musical tribute by the band Box Five and friends, you should probably know that the party continues Thursday: Poe, portrayed by literary historian Rob Velella, will appear at four cemeteries in three states to read from his works, including prose and poetry, well-known works and obscure ones. Each reading will be unique.

Many of Poe’s “stories feature people who return from the dead. Perhaps it is appropriate, then, that the author himself is coming to life this October to give a reading tour,” Velella said.

Just as the Box Five and friends’ “Dream Within a Dream: The Edgar Allan Poe Tour” hits five U.S. cities Poe called home but starts in Boston (well, Somerville), Velella’s reading tour of historic cemeteries and burial grounds throughout the Northeast starts in Cambridge — specifically, at 6 p.m. Thursday at Mount Auburn Cemetery. (Meet in Bigelow Chapel. Admission is $15, or $10 for members of the Friends of Mount Auburn.)

Here he plans to feature “The Tell-Tale Heart” and share Poe’s thoughts on the works of various writers buried at Mount Auburn, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Velella, who describes himself as an independent literary historian and playwright specializing in American literature of the 19th century, has also published articles and presented academic papers on Cambridge’s Margaret Fuller and Oliver Wendell Holmes, both or whom are also buried or honored in the cemetery.

Next up is an Oct. 11 visit to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Tarrytown, N.Y, before returning to Massachusetts for a 6 p.m. Oct. 17 event in Old Ship Church, 90 Main St., Hingham, where Velella will focus on Poe’s maritime tales of adventure (and doom) at sea for $15 per person. The final date is Oct. 24 in Philadelphia.

“In college, I was re-introduced to Edgar Allan Poe. My interest in literature really springs from him,” Velella says on his blog. “Having loved the three or four works I read in school, I wanted to read more about the writer — and was shocked to realize that most of what I assumed about him was either completely untrue or far more complicated.”

It’s similar to Box Five’s Mary Bichner saying Poe gets a bad rap as a poet and author, partially because he’s associated so relentlessly with the spooky. But no one’s saying he wasn’t a bit spooky, or that he wasn’t actually brilliant at being spooky.

Luckily, area residents are getting plenty of chances to find out for themselves.

For information on Velella’s tour dates, click here.

This post used significant amounts of material from a press release.

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