The Poe Toaster

I don't know that Poe himself could have contrived a more bizarre story than this Yet, why would he want to? It seems to me like this old gent has never retired from being Poe's self-proclaimed PR go-to. I remember first hearing about the toaster and thinking how bittersweet it would be to have someone leave top shelf liquor on your grave. That, and wouldn't that be a fabulous appliance? You could read "Annabel Lee" and totally scorch your everything bagel.

It's certainly a good thing, whether true or not, that this appropriately bizarre tribute has received mass media attention. TONS of it, comparitively speaking. I mean, how many poets' graves have actually received any attention? Really, it seems that the poets who were most preoccupied with death and dying are the ones whose graves attract more flocks of devotees (Dickinson is another good example). So, I suppose the key to having a well-tended grave is achieved by the power of suggestion. Any good salesman would say likewise.

But how important is it that artists be remembered in such a way? It's not, certainly, in my opinion. Though, I admit I would love to visit Poe's grave (not to see the toaster). I would sooner appreciate the decedent's art than her epitaph. But this is a distinctly human fascination. Perhaps we must be convinced that celebrities and genuises are buried and rot like anyone. Or we feel that there must be something hallowed, a special aura about their tombs. Perhaps a reason that one path (of several) to sainthood in the Catholic church is one's remains being incorrupt, or resistant to normal decay. Even some more venerable bones smell of honey or spices (which is fabulous, don't you think? I wonder what my bones smell like). It seems that unless we know something about the artist's physical being (or lack thereof), we won't shell out for their collected.

I think that as artists, if you'll forgive my habit of speaking so broadly, we must be prepared to be forgotten. This is not the same as having one's works remembered (though perhaps it is). Not a subjectification of the ego to some artists' hierarchy of needs (i.e., pen trumps food). Merely calm acceptance of the bare fact that the majority of people do not share your values. This is not to say either that one shouldn't profess poetry [or insert respective genre here] important to any number of things, key among which being the preservation of critical thought and beauty, a deeper understanding of the human condition which engenders empathy, something we would be quite doomed without, &c. Basically, my point is that this cause is much greater than a grave; but perhaps the grave (in some strange, beastly, very Poe sort of way) helps. I mean, have you read your Poe today?


B-Ho said…
Hullo! I have NOT read my Poe today... I am, however, in the middle of a post-MFA crisis/fugue/limbo. Work has lightened up immensely... wanna have that lunch this week??

Lindsay said…
For shame! I recommend "Deep in Earth" - it's a quick read! :)

And yes! I think I've been experiencing a similar crisis. Congrats on your forthcoming book, btw (I don't think I ever properly congratulated). Which day works best for you (I'm free any day next week, really)?


Jen Brubacher said…
I have read my Poe today, though it never feels like enough.

I saw Oscar Wilde's grave, and it's a giant stone thing covered in lipstick marks from fans. Somehow, that didn't quite fit.
Lindsay said…
I think I'd heard something about the lipstick from somewhere - you have to admit that it fits just a BIT, anyway. :)

After all, once a celebrity dies, there's very little else he can do to control others' perception of him (or his grave, for that matter).

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