Athens can revel in its macabre side this October thanks to a slate of events organized by a University of Georgia professor celebrating the poet Edgar Allan Poe.
Dubbed "Poe-tober," activities include theater improv, spooky poetry readings and story telling, a mask-making workshop and Poe-related discussions. The events culminate with a "conspiracy of ravens" at the annual Wild Rumpus parade on Oct. 29.
Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor, a professor in the department of language and literacy education in the UGA College of Education, developed the events and community partnerships after receiving a "Big Read" grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The grant follows this past spring's Big Read events celebrating the naturalist and poet Robinson Jeffers.
This time, the community is invited to get to know Poe through a variety of ways. For example, kids can take part in improv theater on Oct. 4 at the State Botanical Garden, kids and adults can take part in a raven-themed mask-making workshop on Oct. 12 at the Lamar Dodd School of Art and Rose of Athens Theatre is partnering with UGA for a production of "Nightfall with Edgar Allen Poe" on Oct. 22 at Seney-Stoval Chapel. The Clarke County Library is also hosting several events, including "Spooky POE-etry" on Oct. 6 and spooky grown-up storytelling on Oct. 27 along with a family-friendly art show and poetry event the same day.
Cahnmann-Taylor said a key component of the month of events is the collaboration among organizations around Athens to make it happen. The Athens-Clarke County Library, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and Rose of Athens Theatre are just a few of the event hosts and collaborators.
"I love bringing our many communities together—we often work in our different corners of Athens but with the same goal: To nurture a healthy, happy and educated community," said Cahnmann-Taylor. "Reading a book together gives us a wonderful excuse to unite our resources for a singular effort and bring diverse communities of readers together."
The events end on All Soul's Day, Nov. 1, with the Asian-German-American poet and translator Kimiko Hahn. "She has crossed the boundaries between poetry and the sciences, as well as boundaries between Japanese and American aesthetics," added Cahnmann-Taylor. "Her reading on All Soul's Day is a fitting end to Poe-tober."
With the exception of the mask-making workshop on Oct. 12, all events are free.