Balancing Light & Shadow: A Southern Californian’s Love Affair With All Things Edgar Allan Poe

Poe Me

{Myself, and Mr. Poe; Westminster Burial Grounds, Baltimore Maryland}

For as long as I could recall, I have adored Edgar Allan Poe. I was born and raised in a Los Angeles suburb in Southern California. Surrounded by Skaters, Surfer Dudes, and eternal sunshine, I often felt like a bit of an outsider! I longed for gloomy weather, ancient cemeteries, and all things dark and Gothic! However, I was given, brightness, glamor, laughter, and totally gnarly waves -bro! Although I never fully embraced my Gothic side, it was always there. I worked hard to balance the dark with the light. Like a Polar Bear at a SoCal Zoo, a person of the Gothic persuasion feels out of place and awkward in the Golden State! But we endure. So many find creative ways to express their dark senses! Some find it in dress, others in art, and many in the books we read. Thought I dabbled in all, I mostly found dark release in the books I read. My first memories of Mr. Poe were as a child in elementary school! They read The Raven to us around Halloweentime. I remember it so well because I felt an instant connection to the Poet’s beautiful words! Each Halloween I excitedly awaited our lesson plans involving Poe. It’s strange that I can look back over my schooling and I can only recall with distinct clarity these wonderful times! I was a child of the 80’s so I, naturally, adored The Simpson’s! When they aired their first “Treehouse of Horror” episode, I was SO excited to see them do “The Raven”!! I remember being dressed in my Halloween costume {I was Dorthy from the Wizard of Oz that year!} and watching the episode as I ate my candy. As I grew older, I began to read R.L. Stine’s “Goosebumps” series, then moved on to his “Fear Street” books. In High School I enjoyed Bram Stoker’s Dracula, while my fellow students read much lighter classics for our book reports. I also dove full force into Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. Poetry and writing became a beautiful part of my life around this time. When I went of to college, I found a few kindred spirits. I noticed something fantastic about every Southern California Gothic heart that I met, we all had a wicked sense of humor. So many saw life as one giant satire and, that, was a breath of fresh air for me! Into my adulthood, I found myself coming back to Mr. Poe and his beautiful works. I decided to read about his life. He almost felt like a favorite Uncle to me. He had been with me my whole life, yet I knew very little about him. He made me smile and find peace, but I didn’t really know him. So I set out to learn about him. Upon reading the first Biography that I could get my hands on, I found many shocking revelations within the pages. The largest being that -I didn’t know him at all!! I was told that he died penniless in a gutter. He was a drunk. Crazy. Mad. And obsessive. I found out that he was none of these things! And he did not die that way! As this truth washed over me, I decided to make it my mission to help dispel these rumors about him. I read more Bios and visited Poe locations on the East Coast. On my first “Poecation” as I like to call it, I decided to write a novel about his life. To make the truth of my hero known to the world in an easy and accessible way. Each time I met new people on my Poecations I feel both connected, yet totally foreign. My being raised in Sunshine and laughter makes me different. The fans of Poe who were raised out West are unique. We see him differently. We know him in another light. …A light that can be as blinding as the Summer sun, or the spotlight on a stage. He is dark and from a very different place than us. His world is something many of us wish for, yet we love what we have come from. I feel like so many California Poe fans have a troubled relationship with their native land. Yet we must find peace in it. And accept that it is what made us who we are today. Perhaps if we were raised out East, we wouldn’t have reached for Poe. Perhaps we would have reached for Surf culture, -bro! I, for one, am beginning to come to terms with my CA roots. I am proud of this fact. My mission in this life still stands firm, I am here to bring Mr. Poe to the world. I wish to take him to the masses. Like the waves of the ocean on an unusually gloomy day, I wish to make Mr. Poe’s California legacy eternal, familiar, and a touch playful. Because that is just how he has been to me my whole life. 🙂

Mr Poe lil stinker

{My tattoo of Mr. Poe. Horns added by a photo app. Isn’t he a handsome devil?!}

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