Get Thee to Poe Cottage—in the Bronx!
By Richie Narvaez
Too many tourists traveling to New Yawk are drawn to the trite, teeming tackiness of Times Square, the Highline, or, ugh, the Vessel. But should they be lovers of literature and/or devotees of the dark, they would be better served to look north. There in the busy, bustling, brash Boogie Down Bronx—the borough politicians like to forget, the borough too many people think still burns like a coal-seam fire in PA (but does not!)—is the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage.
I highly recommend your checking out this quaint and curious landmark.
The great writer, inventor of the modern detective story (Western canon), Poe rented the cottage for $100 a year in 1846. He moved there with Virginia, his ailing wife, and his mother-in-law, Mrs. Clemm, in the hopes that the Bronx country air—that’s right, I said the “Bronx country air”—might cure Virginia’s tuberculosis. Sadly, she passed away in 1847.
The cottage, a white frame farmhouse built as a laborer’s dwelling, is modest. You enter into the kitchen (now also the gift shop), with its small table, hearth, and stove, and walk through the living room, pass a small bedroom, and up stairs to more small rooms. Only a few items of Poe’s original furniture are within—a mirror, a rocking chair, and the bed that Virginia died in. He wrote “Annabel Lee,” “Eureka,” “The Bells,” and “The Cask of Amontillado” in these rooms, and it doesn’t take much to imagine him sitting at the writing desk or pacing on the porch contemplating a rhyme. With the imposing artwork of Poe there, you might say the cottage remains “By good angels tenanted.”
The writer resided there until his death—in Baltimore, under mysterious circumstances—in 1849.
The house was originally located on Kingsbridge Road, but was moved—as if borne by wingèd seraphs (but actually rolled on logs)—less than a block away, and is now nestled in a park named for Poe. In 1962 the cottage was designated a landmark.
Nearby is a Visitors Center, its roof lines suggestive of a raven’s wings, a gallery/cultural programming space for visual, literary, and performance arts. I’ve been privileged to run writing workshops there, which ain’t easy, with the cottage looming in the background, and Poe’s spirit staring at me through the huge windows.
Take the D train to Kingsbridge Road, or the 4 train, or the BxM4 express bus from Manhattan. Entry is only five bucks for adults, three for students, kids, and seniors. (Note: The cottage is currently closed due to COVID restrictions.) Afterward, you can have some tasty comida criolla or go for Italian on Arthur Avenue.
For more on the cottage, go to: http://bronxhistoricalsociety.org/poe-cottage/.
A born-and-bred New Yorker, Richie Narvaez has several short pieces coming up in the photo anthology New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst, edited by Elizabeth Crowens. His most recent novel is the historical YA mystery Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco, and his latest book is the anthology Noiryorican.
New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst
Presented by: Elizabeth Crowens
An Anthology and Celebration of the Big Apple
I’m an unabashed, unapologetic lover of New York City, my hometown, and New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst is right up my dark, deserted alley. New York’s at its best when you sneak up on it, glance at its sideways, or let it glance sideways at you. The pros and photos in this collection all show New York’s best, even when they purport to be showing its worst; in NYC, that’s how we roll. A fine addition to your New York bookshelf, a collection to savor.
~ SJ Rozen, best-selling author of The Art of Violence
Genre: Coffee Table book of Photography with Short Stories
Published by: Atomic Alchemist Productions, LLC
Publication Date: Oct 25, 2021
Number of Pages: 150
ISBN: 1950384136, 9781950384136
Read the Intro:
About New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst:
Writer and photographer, Elizabeth Crowens is one of 500 New York City-based artists to receive funding through the City Artist Corps Grants program, presented by The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), with support from the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) as well as Queens Theatre.
She was recognized for New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst, her photo-illustrated anthology, which brought her published book along with ten other authors to Mysterious Bookshop in Lower Manhattan at 58 Warren Street on Monday, October 25, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. for an in-store event and author signing along with a simultaneous Facebook Live presentation and recording for Jim Freund’s WBAI program Hour of the Wolf.
Author contributors include:
- Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times bestselling author of over 31 award-winning mystery and thriller novels, including the Jesse Stone series for the estate of Robert B. Parker. Called a hard-boiled poet by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan.
- Charles Salzberg, former magazine journalist, crime novelist of the Shamus Award-nominated Henry Swann series, founding member of the New York Writers Workshop.
- Tom Straw, Emmy and WGA-nominated writer-producer, credits include Nurse Jackie, Night Court, Grace Under Fire, Whoopie, and the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Crime novelist under the pen name of Richard Castle.
- Randee Dawn, Entertainment journalist for Today.com, Variety, and the Los Angeles Times. Co-editor of Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles and The Law & Order: SUV Companion, and speculative fiction writer of the upcoming Tune in Tomorrow.
- Barbara Krasnoff, Reviews Editor at The Verge, over 45 published short stories, Nebula Award finalist, author of the “mosaic” novel The History of Soul 2065.
- Steven Van Patten, TV stage manager by day, horror writer by night. Co-host of the Beef, Wine and Shenanigans podcast, winner of several African American Literary Awards.
- Triss Stein writes mysteries that all take place in Brooklyn.
- Marco Conelli, former NYPD detective, consultant to Mary Higgins Clark, and Silver Falchion award-winner for young adult mysteries and the police procedural Cry For Help, taking place in The Bronx.
- R.J. Koreto, historical mystery writer focusing on New York during the Gilded Age.
- Richie Narvaez, award-winning mystery author of Hipster Death Rattle, Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco, and Noiryorican.
- Elizabeth Crowens, over 25 years in the entertainment industry, member of the International Cinematographers Guild as a Still Photographer (Imdb.com credited: Sheri Lane), award-winning writer of novels in the Hollywood mystery and alternate history genres. Recipient of the Leo B. Burstein Scholarship by the NY Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Editor and photographer for New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst based on her Facebook Caption Contests. elizabethcrowens.com, @Ecrowens on Twitter, and Elizabeth Crowens on Facebook!
Visit the stops on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, and guest posts from our hosts and authors!