When budgets get tight, it's often the arts that suffer first. Case in point: the city of Baltimore, feeling the pinch like just about every other city in the United States, found a substantial savings in its books by cutting the $80,000 in annual funding it has been providing to The Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum. Poe is believed to have only lived in the house for a couple of years, but it was a prolific time in which he wrote several stories, including "Berenice – A Tale" and "MS. Found in a Bottle" as well as a handful of poems and reviews. The structure itself is protected by landmark laws, so it's not like they'll be tearing it down, but access to the building, and the programs held within it, will be gone.
Fortunately, people aren't going to let it go without a fight. Literary Landmark Press is working to put together an anthology called The Spirit of Poe, the proceeds of which will go toward restoring the annual budget of the Poe House and Museum. The press is working feverishly to get the anthology out in time for Halloween. A full table of contents has not yet been released, but we know that in addition to a couple of Poe stories ("The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Tell-Tale Heart") there will be numerous contributions of original stories and poetry, as well as an introduction by renowned Poe expert Barbara Cantalupo. The book is up for preorder now at the Literary Landmark Press website.
It goes without saying that Poe has a wide-ranging influence, whether directly or indirectly, on the majority of horror fiction written today. And while the loss of access to this humble little museum may seem like no big deal, it's a blow that you can help avert with a simple and affordable contribution of $14.99 – a contribution which will also net you what is probably going to be an enjoyable anthology. The editors have promised that every penny outside of production costs – much of which are already being covered by additional contributions – will go toward keeping the Poe House in operation. Personally, I can't think of a better "treat" that any of us could hand out this Halloween.
Blu Gilliand is a freelance writer of fiction and nonfiction. He covers horror fiction at his blog, October Country (http://theoctobercountry.wordpress.com), and contributes interviews to the Horror World website. Follow him on Twitter at @BluGilliand.