To answer the obvious question: no, I’m not an asshole.
To answer the next obvious question: yes, I freaking love Edgar Allan Poe. I always have.
I have been to the Poe House. I went to Baltimore specifically to partake in his first and only real funeral. I read a poem at his gravesite. I met the curator of the Poe House. I think he’s a lovely man. I think what the Poe House and the Poe Society do are vital.
But I have a problem with the whole “the city of Baltimore must fund the Poe House or it’s screwed” thing. That’s an either/or scenario that implies there are no other options. Well, yes, there’s a third option, which means following what other museums have done and raising admissions, or renting out the space, or selling souvenirs. I agree with their assessment: it’s not feasible.
However, where’s the fourth option? The fourth option that many museums and other such places due to help with funding difficulties: donations. The way I read this, they’re looking for one person with big pockets to give them $85,000 (their cited number) for their annual budget. And to me…that shows a significant lack of vision.
There’s a petition to save the Poe House which I’ve decided not to sign. It wants 5000 signatures. I’m not even getting into the idea of whether or not I should be telling a city where I don’t live what to do with money that’s not mine. I’m saying something else.
The government wants to offload it? Fine. Let them. Let Poe fans fund the Poe House.
Oh yes, you say: that sounds easy enough. Well–do the math. It is easy enough. Instead of 5000 people signing a petition–what if they all donated instead? How much would they each have to donate to fund the Poe House for a single year?
You pay more than that for a night at the cinema for two. Instead of just saying that the Poe House is crucial and critical and so forth and so on: put your money where your mouth is. If just 5000 people gave $17, then the City of Baltimore government could go pound sand and the Poe House would be saved.
And seriously, if we don’t have 5000 fans of Poe–not just in Baltimore but worldwide–who are willing to hold off a night of sub-par 3D entertainment and give that money instead to save a literary landmark–then we are well and truly fucked, friends. One building closing is the least of our worries.
Here’s their contact info, taken from their website:
The E. A. Poe Society of Baltimore
c/o Mr. Jeffrey A. Savoye
1610 Dogwood Hill Road
Towson, MD 21286-1506
Checks can be made out to the “E. A. Poe Society.” I’m going to write “Save the Poe House” on my check. And I’m giving $20. And I’ll send it out tomorrow. I encourage you to do the same.
I would hope that the Poe Society would create a Paypal account or something similar where it becomes ridiculously easy to donate. And even have a subscription: set yourself up to just donate $17 every year on the 1st of January or some such.
(Or if we go with Facebook numbers, over 133K people “like” Poe. Imagine if they all gave a dollar.)
Let me say again: I love Poe. And I love Poe enough that I want the question of whether or not the Poe House will close taken off the table completely. Not just put off till 2013 or 2014. And the only way that can be done is if we do it. This isn’t Baltimore’s problem to solve. Poe belongs to all of us. So it’s our problem to solve. And the good news is: it’s not an insurmountable problem. We just need 4999 more people (or an equivalent) to do the right thing.