How to celebrate Poe’s birthday: fun, last-minute and on the cheap!

My Poe action figure. I can’t write without him around!

January 19 (TODAY!) is Edgar Allan Poe’s 209th birthday—and it falls on a Friday, the most popular night of the week to party! Can’t make it to any of the myriad of Poe-related events in Baltimore, Virginia, Philadelphia or the Bronx this weekend, but still want to have some fun? Here are five instant, easy, low-cost ways to mark the occasion.

 Spend the night by the fire with some Poe classics. When was the last time you read “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Black Cat,” or “The Fall of the House of Usher”? Tired of the most Poe-pular? Try “The Oval Portrait,” “Some Words with a Mummy” or “Silence—A Fable.” Just don those PJs, find a cozy spot and grab your favorite hot beverage. Don’t own any of Poe’s stuff or don’t have it at your fingertips? Check out

Sandeman Amontillado Label

Drink some Amontillado. Your local liquor store should have it; just ask. Our favorite? Sandeman Character Medium Dry Amontillado, which around here is about $15 a bottle. One warning: don’t quaff it like you would a regular glass of wine or a beer. It’ll knock you on your Poe-sterior.

Watch a Poe-related film. Pop that corn and settle in! If you’ve got the Vincent Price classics, you’re all set—but if you don’t, here is a smattering of some films we like that are instantly available for inexpensive rental with the click of a button:

 The Masque of the Red Death: “While the plague rages outside in the small Italian province, the Satan-worshipping prince stays confined to the sanctuary of his castle. The “Red Death” enters the dance and the guests succumb to the plague… one by one.” (1964)

Masters of Horror, Season 2: The Black Cat “”Perversity,” wrote Edgar Allan Poe, is “the human thirst for self torture.” Jeffrey Combs of RE-ANIMATOR fame delivers an electrifying performance as the legendary writer driven to debt and drunken folly by a world cruelly indifferent to his poetry. But is it his beloved wife’s agonizing death by consumption or her deranged pet feline that will soon trigger the scribe’s most ghastly acts of madness? Director Stuart Gordon and longtime collaborator Dennis Paoli (RE- ANIMATOR, DAGON, CASTLE FREAK) co-wrote this grisly exploration of horror fiction’s dark genius, condemned to a living hell of illusion, insanity and beyond by THE BLACK CAT.” (2007) This is the link to the whole season; scroll down until you see The Black Cat. It’s $1.99 to rent and well worth it.

 The Raven: “A brutal killing spree terrorizes 19th-century Baltimore and a young detective turns to notorious author Edgar Allan Poe for help getting inside the mind of a serial killer.” (2012)

Killing Poe: “A dark comedy about five students in a class on Edgar Allan Poe who teach their professor a lesson in true Poe style.” (2017)

Into documentaries? Biography’s episode on Poe is here for free:

Poe Wine Glass

You can serve your friends in this Poe Wine Glass. Etsy, $12.

Host an impromptu Poe-try night. Call a couple of friends over for beverages and snacks, then light some candles and read some of Poe’s most famous poems aloud. When you’re done enjoying “Ulalume,” “Annabelle Lee” and “The Raven”—or whatever else you’ve chosen (there’s a pretty good, free selection here:—spend an hour or two passing time the old fashioned way with a round of cards, chess, or a favorite board game.

Poe Socks

These socks’ll keep your toes warm on a January night! Out of Print, $10.

 Buy yourself the Poe-fect treat. Poe has become such a part of pop culture that there are plenty of wacky things to buy (in every budget range) out there. Out of Print has socks, t-shirts and bags: The Poe Museum in Richmond has a store that features everything from housewares to stationery: Etsy has everything under the sun, including Poe playing cards, wine glasses, book marks, and jewelry:

Have fun…and don’t go sealing anyone up in a wall, okay?

Obviously, Poe’s been a huge influence on my own work. If you want to check out just how much, you can read “Denigrating David” in State of Imagination here, pick up This Poisoned Ground on Kindle here, or treat yourself to several Poe-inspired pieces in the collection In Poe’s Shadow, which features my story “Vanity” here.

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of both the New England Horror Writers and the Horror Writers Association. Follow her adventures at

Posted on January 19, 2018, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff, Horror Movies, Horror Stories, The Writing Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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