Edgar Allan Poe celebrated with spirited performance at Windsor library

By Samantha Figueroa - ReminderNews
Windsor - posted Thu., Oct. 31, 2013
Campbell Harmon performs ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ as Edgar Allan Poe. Photo by Samantha Figueroa.
Campbell Harmon performs ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ as Edgar Allan Poe. Photo by Samantha Figueroa.

The Windsor Public Library hosted a presentation by “The Poe Actor,” Campbell Harmon, on Oct. 24. Harmon, acting as writer Edgar Allan Poe, gave a first-hand account of Poe’s life and performed two of Poe’s most famous writings, “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Raven.”

“I’ve been a Poe fan since high school,” said reference librarian Robert Kinney, who had organized the presentation.  “I thought it would be a good little adventure.”

Harmon began his presentation with an animated recitation of “The Tell-Tale Heart,” a personal favorite of Harmon’s. He then conveyed the highlights of Poe’s life, writing career, marriage and the mystery surrounding his death - in character as Poe himself - and concluded by reciting “The Raven.”

To set the record straight, “Poe” gave an account of his childhood, his troubled relationship with foster father and uncle, John Allan, how gambling debts caused him to leave school, his brief stint as a soldier, and how he came to wed his beloved wife, Virginia. In his time, Poe was known as a literary critic, whose pen was described as being “dipped in prussic acid.”

Poe was among the first to try to support himself solely on his writings. In addition to being the father of horror, Poe is also the father of the first detective novel, creating the format of the modern detective story in the “The Purloined Letter” and “The Murders at the Rue Morgue,” the latter a story which was said to inspire Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes.”  The Mystery Writers of America acknowledges Poe as a mystery writer to this day by giving an annual award for mystery known as The Edgar, “not the Arthur,” “Poe” pointed out.

“Poe” also went over the numerous theories that surrounded his death in Baltimore in 1849 and Griswold’s attempts to slander Poe’s name after his death, yet instead kept Poe’s name in the papers well after his demise.

“I liked it,” Rachel Merci said enthusiastically about the presentation. She had read Poe’s works in school. “It was interesting,” she added.

“I always loved horror and I always was a big fan of Poe growing up,” said Harmon.  Harmon came to play the character of Poe in 2009 on the 200th anniversary of Poe’s birth with the Wallingford Trail of Terror.  Harmon came to present at schools and libraries as Edgar Allan Poe for The Big Read program, which was on Poe’s works at the time. Since then, Harmon still presents as Edgar Allan Poe at libraries and schools on his own. “I try to bring him back from just the scary horror writer,” Harmon explained, “and make him real.”

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