Bad-Ass Poe Is All Out of Bubblegum

January 17, 2012 — Yesterday I was contacted by a representative from the Poe Foundation of Boston in response to my piece in October on Edgar Allan Poe landmarks in that city. In the piece, as I've done in multiple other places, I made fun of Boston for not properly honoring a native son who is one of the few universally acclaimed greats of literature. After all, this is a city that honored the mayor who banned Led Zeppelin with a ten-foot-tall bronze statue and immortalized a children's book about ducks in one of its most public spaces.

Apparently, the foundation is about to make my comments on that topic completely out-of-date and a waste of good insults.

The foundation, along with the Boston Art Commission, is currently mid-process in developing an honest-to-God Poe monument for permanent installation at the recently christened Edgar Allan Poe Square, the small brick triangle at the southeast corner of Boylston and Charles Streets, near where his birth home once stood.

After receiving proposals from 265 entrants last year, they recently announced the three finalists for the monument design. They’ve also posted those artists’ statements of intent and concept images and are awaiting public comment through the end of February before choosing a final design in early March. Here are those three finalists:

I like the idea of this one, Poe eternally shadowed by an ominous figure that could be interpreted as anything from inspiration to destiny to curse. For some reason, the idea reminds me of the intimidating Saint-Gaudens sculpture of Phillips Brooks at Trinity Church in Copley Square. However, the size of this entry seems less monument and more alcove statuary. And somehow the size and spacial relationships of the two figures takes away from Poe himself.

Poe Park in the Bronx recently unveiled a new raven wing-inspired visitor center, and I assume that this proffered interpretive structure is something similar in idea. Titled, Tis the wind and nothing more, it mines imagery besides the usual Poe icons and focuses more on his body of work than his actual body, and I do at least like that about it. However, Poe Square is a pretty small space and the structure seems too vaguely connected to the author, so I’m not sure whether this would work or not.

My favorite of the three. I'm dubbing it "Bad-Ass Poe," and I’m pretty confident that it's the best of the group. The few Poe statues out there are sedate affairs, but this Poe is toting a satchel full of his work like a machine gun, strutting down the street unleashing nightmares and quoting Rowdy Roddy Piper. This is the second coming of Poe, the one we never saw, the one who has finally realized the recognition he deserved in his lifetime. And he’s a cocky bastard.

The artist states that the statue will have a grayish patina to give the impression that this is the ghost of Poe, and she offers the option for including two other figures at other points in the square, an oversized black cat and Fortunato, freshly resurrected from his brick crypt.

More pics from all three proposals can be found at the aforementioned project site, along with the artist explanations for the designs. So check it out and then give feedback on your favorite. You can do it right on that site or on their Facebook page. You might not have a stake in Boston, but I know you, and you do have a stake in Poe.

As for me, I know where my vote is going. The city, nay, the world needs a Bad-Ass Poe.