Tag Archives: edgar allan poe

Write a spooky tale!

Last week, I learned that my narrative poem, “Orchard #9,” was accepted for publication by Coffin Bell for January 2019. This cherriespoem features a romp through a haunted cherry orchard and an encounter with a waif-sprite with a fondness for sweet cherries.

With 100 lines, “Orchard #9” is much longer than most poems, so I’m very fortunate (and so grateful!) that a journal would make a home for it. It helped that Coffin Bell seeks writing that explores dark themes, as they say, outside traditional horror. For their next issue, they’re seeking tales of magic. Might you have a story to share?

This is a time of revision as well as creation for me. I’ve been writing a couple of spooky stories that have been haunting my brain for some time. It feels good to liberate these “ghosts!”

There are plenty of stories dwelling in the rational already.  Why not push the boundaries and write about the unexplained? Your story doesn’t have to be about ghosts; it can be about the day your GPS led you to take a wrong turn that resulted in an unexpected adventure. The day that a fortune cookie turned out to be oddly prescient. Or how you meet a stranger who seems to be someone you knew before.

Turn to the masters for inspiration. “Cara” by Georgia Panghorn and “The Ghostly Rental” by Henry James  are older works that I recently discovered and enjoyed. More recent writers include Shirley Jackson (“The Daemon Lover” and “The Beautiful Stranger”) and William Trevor, who also wrote his share of spooky stories (“The Raising of Elvira Tremlett” and “The Love of a Good Woman” for example). And, of course, anything by Edgar Allan Poe. I’ve always loved “The Black Cat.”

There’s also a host of contemporary writers you can find in journals like Coffin Bell who focus on the supernatural and the mysterious. Check out Volume 1, Issue 3  for great stories by Michael Grantham, Tihana Romanić, Katrina Hays, and much more.

And then write your own! So, when  you see all those enticing calls for “spooky stories” around Halloween (or beyond), you’ll be ready. It will be as if you dreamed it. 😉

 

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The End of the Road – Day 8

“Keep your face toward the sunshine,” wrote Walt Whitman, “and the shadows will fall behind you.” These words are a fitting introduction to the last day of our literary tour, as we navigated the tricky traffic of the greater New York metropolitan area for our last scheduled stops.

We spent last night at the gracious home of Jen and Pat (otherwise known as Jenny-Pat) in Darien, CT. Thank you so much, Jenny-Pat, for your hospitality and kindness (wine, snacks, and breakfast!). Once on the road, we first made a pitstop in Tarrytown, New York at Sunnyside, Washington Irving’s home. This was the place of his retirement after a lifetime of travel, letters, and writing best-selling stories such as Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Not surprisingly, as the authors on our tour moved in very small circles, Irving served as a mentor to Poe, Melville, and Hawthorne and even corresponded with Dickens. Due to the timing of the tours, and the extent of our travels, unfortunately, we weren’t able to go inside Sunnyside, but we did catch a glimpse of the beautiful landscape bordering the Hudson River. This is on the agenda for next time, for sure.

We next made our way to the birthplace of Walt Whitman, one of the primary poets who (along with Emily Dickinson) ushered in the era of contemporary poetry through works such as Leaves of Grass. The home is a very simple colonial farmhouse in Huntington on Long Island, New York (picture one, below). He lived here only three years and therefore there are only scant remnants of his life at this location, but the inside of the home includes period furniture meant to replicate his time in the house. His home in Camden, New Jersey, which includes more personal possessions, may be a better reflection of the poet but the visitor’s center here features a helpful timeline and a couple of things, such as a rare first edition (autographed!) of a work titled Two Rivulets (picture two) and the desk he used during his stint as a teacher in New York (picture three).

walt1

walt2

walt3

We were lucky enough to end our travels at the same place we began–the home of the wonderful Kretchmars in State College, PA. Although we’re sad to end our literary extravaganza, we’re proud to say that we covered five states and a total of 19 actual sites! And Ann, Jen, and I will return to North Carolina tomorrow with a renewed appreciation of our favorite authors and more inspiration for our own creative endeavors.

Since some of you have kindly asked, next time I’ll post the full itinerary of our journey, along with a few details of our more serendipitous pitstops. For now, good night, and I hope you are curling up with a good book!

Summer Literary Tour of New England: Day 1

Today was the first day of a much anticipated American Literary Tour through New England. My friends Jen and Ann and I kicked off an eight-day blitz through some of the famous sites of American Literature.

We began by stopping in Richmond, home of the Edgar Allen Poe Museum. Although Poe never lived here, it is the oldest building in Richmond, constructed entirely of stone. He spent some of the happiest years of his life in Richmond and considered himself more of a Southerner than a Bostonian, although he was born there.

poe

The museum featured personal possessions of Poe, including one of the few extant handwritten poems to a childhood girlfriend, “To Helen”; a trinket box owned by his wife, Virginia; his trunk; and even a lock of his hair. None of the houses where he lived while in Richmond still exist, but the museum features several pieces of furniture, including his boyhood bed, pictured below.

bed

Next, we went to Potters Mill, Pennsylvania, the location of Eutaw House, a tavern built in 1794 and reputedly the site where Poe penned his most famous work, The Raven. Today Eutaw House is home to a used car lot and has been made into apartments. We feared it was inaccessible but the adventurous Ann (at her most brazen) charged through the lawn, unlatched the gate, and climbed up the steps to the third floor. The picture below shows the room where he allegedly wrote this poem. Inside you could sense the ambience that inspired his poem.

raven

“And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
    And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
     Shall be lifted—nevermore!”
After polishing off a couple Amish Whoopie pies, we journeyed to State College, where Jen’s parents Janet and Scott live. They are kindly hosting the first and last night of our tour and treated us to wine and a homemade pizza buffet.
pizza2
Tomorrow we plan to get up at the crack of dawn and travel to Austerlitz, New York, and the home of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. Stay tuned for the next edition of our journal, which will feature highlights of our journey. In addition to stops in New York, we’ll go to Massachusetts and Connecticut.