Podcast of the Poe Debate

Between his birth two blocks south of Boston Common on January 19, 1809 and his death in Baltimore on October 7, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe lived in many places—including Richmond, London, Philadelphia, New York, and, yes, Boston. In celebration of the opening of The Raven in the Frog Pond, the Boston Public Library presents what has been called the Great Poe Debate, in which advocates for Baltimore, Boston, and Philadelphia make the case for their city's claim to the Poe legacy.

Charles Pierce (Moderator) is author of four books—Sports Guy (2000), Hard to Forget: An Alzheimer's Story (2001), Moving the Chains: Tom Brady and the Pursuit of Everything (2006), and Idiot America (2009). He appears weekly on National Public Radio's sports program Only A Game and is a regular panelist on NPR's game show Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me. Since July 1997 he has been a writer at large at Esquire, and in April 2002 he joined the staff of the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine.

Jeff Jerome: Curator of the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum in Baltimore since 1978, Jerome is frequently called upon by the local, national, and international media to talk about Poe and his life. A Baltimore native, Jerome oversees Baltimore's Poe birthday celebration every year in January and personally witnesses the yearly visit by the Poe Toaster to the gravesite. He recently returned from trips to Japan and Romania where he furthered the cause of Poe's life and works.

Paul Lewis, curator of the Poe/Boston exhibit and Professor of English at Boston College, is the author of Comic Effects: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Humor in Literature and Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict, and of articles on gothic fiction, dark humor, and U.S. literature and culture: 1790-1860. His interest in connections between humor and fear has drawn him to the work of Boston native, Edgar Allan Poe.

Edward Pettit is the Philly Poe Guy, a freelance writer, book reviewer and literary provocateur. He gives public lectures about Poe and Philadelphia Gothic and this work has been featured in the NY Times and newspapers and magazines around the world, as well as on TV and radio. A member of the National Book Critics Circle and the Mystery Writers of America, Pettit also writes the Ed & Edgar blog, chronicling his adventures in the Cult of Poe.

"More fun than a typical literary memorial."
Obit Magazine


"Tuesday night’s Great Poe Debate at the Free Library of Philadelphia certainly lived up to its name. The event was front-page news in that day’s edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer (“Poe’s Heart Belong Elsewhere? Nevermore!”), and it drew a standing-room-only crowd to the library’s Montgomery Auditorium. That 400 people would turn out on a frigid Tuesday night for a literary debate qualifies as nothing short of miraculous. Anyone expecting scholarly presentations of dry facts and measured persuasion would have been sorely disappointed—not that I heard any complaints. This was more of a literary spectacle, a memorable and raucous affair that will be talked about for years."
Baltimore Magazine