I attended a Poe-tober event held at the Athens-Clarke County Library. It was called the “Return of the Son of Listening in the Dark” and it was an evening of spooky stories for grownups. The night consisted of about 5 storytellers coming up and reading different kinds of dark poems and stories. I was never a fan of Poe in high school and the only thing I remember from high school about Poe is the Simpsons clip my teacher showed us of their rendition of “The Raven.” I have always enjoyed dark poems and stories, but my teachers never put in an effort to make Poe fun or interactive, so his work never appealed to me. One storyteller recited a folktale from England called A Haunted Hare. He played a harmonium instrument for background music to set the tone and mood for the story and he also had several mini statues of gold hares around him too. Something I really enjoyed about this event was that it exposed me to a side of Poe I never experience in high school. All the storytellers were dressed up in halloween themed costumes and like the storyteller I mentioned before, many of them had props and music ready to use during their stories. Several of the storytellers just recited a few of Poe’s works like “Annabel Lee,” but even those were fun and interesting because they were using theatrical voices and acting. Also the storytellers that read Poe’s poems aloud were also teaching and giving background information about Poe and the work while reading, which I really appreciated because I didn’t know much about him or his work. I was really surprised that I actually enjoyed this event because I wasn’t too excited about it, but I’m glad I decided to go because it really got me hooked onto Poe and as a teacher, this event got me thinking about different ways I could possibly teach Poe to high schoolers. I wish my English teachers would have done something like this in high school where we would have a chance to read our stories aloud because although I am an active reader and writer, I have a really hard time reading aloud to a group of people because I stutter. I would have really appreciated something as fun and interactive as being able to tell stories to my peers because it would have given me more practice to read aloud to a crowd. Even though this event was for adults, I felt like I learned a lot about Poe, his work and different folktales.
I would definitely teach any of Edgar Allen Poe’s works in my classroom especially since he was someone I learned about in high school. I think it would be great to teach Poe when introducing poetry and short stories to students because that is what he is known for. I especially think it would be fun to teach Poe during halloween, hence Poe-tober. Like I mentioned before, Poe never appealed to me because all my teachers in high school just had us read his poems and short stories in class and for homework and I just remember taking a lot of quizzes, tests and writing essays on him. Many of my teachers didn’t step out of their comfort zones and many of them didn’t put in a huge effort to make learning fun for us in class. If I were to teach Poe, I would want to incorporate as many interactive activities as I can, such as having my students have a storytelling day just like the Poe-tober event I attended at Athens-Clarke County library. After introducing my students to Poe and giving them a good amount of background information on him, I would have my students read (or read aloud to them) his most famous works such as “The Raven.” I would definitely use The Simpsons video just to grab my students’ attention since videos tend to do that with them and it would be a pop culture reference they could recognize, so I would use the video during the beginning of the unit. If I were to teach Poe then I would really like to create an assignment where my students would have to write their own dark poems or short stories. They would have the choice to either make their own versions of Poe’s works or they could also just completely create their own short story and poem from scratch. I would probably have several writing workshop days in class to get this assignment done in a way where my students are given as many resources and extra help they need. Once my students are done with their stories and poems, I would dedicate a whole class day to have a “cafe night” where my students all take turns sharing their works aloud to each other while having things to drink and eat during the event. I would want this “cafe night” to reflect the literary event I attended, so I would most likely encourage my students to come dressed up in halloween-esque costumes and also have decorations up in my classroom while playing music in the background to set the mood and tone for the day. Instead of just having my students come up to the front of the class and read their work as if they are giving a speech, which can be extremely nerve-wrecking, I would rather have my students be able to share their work in a space that is comfortable and fun for them where they don’t feel too much pressure. I am a huge advocate for independent reading, so if I were to teach a unit on Poe, I would love to have my students each pick out an independent reading book with the same themes of horror and mystery in them. I found this link (http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/2014/10/02/gothic-horror-and-mysteries-ya-fiction-for-fans-of-edgar-allan-poe/ ) that has a list of young adult novels that are similar to Edgar Allan Poe’s works so I think this would be a great resource to use if I were to ever teach Poe in my classroom.
YA Novels Inspired by the Works of Poe