Literary Event: POEtober "Return of the Son of Listening in the Dark"

Ariel Stone

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Athens-Clarke County Library

"Return of the Son of Listening in the Dark" was a literary event set up at the Athens-Clarke County Library. At this event, selected writers, librarians, and lovers of literature read scary stories inspired by Edgar Allen Poe, written by Edgar Allen Poe, or scary stories which fit the theme appropriately. It lasted around three hours, and when I walked in the door, I was handed this book for free - the entire collected works of Poe!
I was also given this bookmark (among a few other informational flyers and pamphlets) which really stuck out to me. Prior to attending the event, I was unaware of what the NEA Big Read was, so I did a little research: "Showcasing a diverse range of contemporary titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, the [National Endowment of the Arts] Big Read aims to inspire conversation and discovery" ("About the NEA Big Read," n.d., para. 1). I figured this was a great initiative to share with my students, as they assert reading for pleasure "reduces stress, heightens empathy, improves students' test scores, slows the onset of dementia, and makes us more active and aware citizens" ("About the NEA Big Read," n.d., para. 2). These are all titles I am interested in exploring further in my classroom, both to house on my classroom bookshelf and potentially teach as whole class novels. I was glad to have been introduced to this program thanks to the event I attended!

As a reader, I sincerely and thoroughly enjoyed the event. Not only was I exposed to a genre I was unfamiliar with, I was able to be a part of a reading community which appreciates literature just as much as I do. The event was one for adults, which I worried would be irrelevant to me as a high school teacher; however, it was just the opposite. Surprisingly, I heard some biographical information about Poe's life along with his works. I felt invigorated as a reader, to continue to learn more about Poe, but also to learn more about writers and stories in that genre. I have always loved horror movies but never explored the genre in literature; this event has sparked my interest in reading scary stories. I also appreciated the event in its medium. I have never been to anything like it before. Listening to literature aloud was a refreshing experience and truly gave the stories a more sincere meaning. The authenticity of the event spoke to me on a personal level, and I intend to continue attending similar events.

This is a photo of the stage in the auditorium where the event was held. I appreciated the festivity, and the instrument sitting in the center of the stage was used during one of the performances!

I took a video (mostly for the audio) of one of the readings. The speaker, a former librarian from Georgia, used an instrument as he read to create a spooky ambiance. The story is a children's tale from England. Unfortunately, the audio is difficult to hear, as I recorded it with my cell phone; if the volume is loud enough, you should be able to hear the reading!

As a teacher, the event not only provided an experience with the author Edgar Allen Poe, but it inspired an event I may want to see in my own classroom one day. Poe is a huge component of any American Literature class, and hearing his stories and poems read aloud - especially "The Tell-Tale Heart" - convinced me this is the only way for these stories to be presented. I would love to have someone like the readers from the event come into my classroom and read a Poe story aloud to my students, to show them a different experience with literature and provide something new to them. I could also read it aloud to them myself, if I practiced! Another idea I thought of was to have an event like this in my classroom as a sort of final project or end of the year celebration. Each student could read aloud a story, and not just by Poe; I could expand this idea across all genres, perhaps a themed event or perhaps not. My students could read stories, poems, or excerpts they loved from the class, any literature they found that they feel inclined to share, or any of their own original writing. I could make a whole day (or evening!) of it - provide refreshments, decorations, lighting, staging, invite parents and friends if it was after school. This concept is still in its baby stages, but I am truly inspired by the event to flesh something like this out in my own classroom.

References:

"About the NEA Big Read." (n.d.). Retrieved November 23, 2016, from http://www.neabigread.org/about.php.

Created By
Ariel Stone
Appreciate

Credits:

Created with images by David Numeritos - "HBD Poe!" • SauerC - "raven head bill" • sidewalk flying - "Poe"

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