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The Poe House of the Poe Homes
Freelance writer A. N. Devers trekked to Baltimore in search of the home of Edgar Allan Poe. Along the way, she discovered her own need for a sense of place, as chronicled in an excerpt from “On the Outskirts” in literary magazine Tin House. Devers explores the value in preserving the homes of writers, and why “our romantic need to idealize historic places presents a particular challenge for writers’ homes:”
Before my visit, I knew little about Baltimore’s Poe House. That was because I didn’t want to know too much; I wanted to see it with untarnished eyes. So I didn’t know that the Poe House was located inside the boundaries of the Poe Homes, the city’s oldest housing projects. Nor did I know that the projects were built on the remains of historic homes that were controversially demolished in the 1930s. It was a last-minute public outcry that spared Poe’s house itself from the bulldozer. A couple of weeks after my Baltimore visit I sat down to watch the first episode of The Wire. Twenty minutes into the show, two homicide detectives discuss the discovery of a John Doe in West Baltimore:
McNulty: Hey, it’s a decomp. Maybe
it comes back a natural death.
Landsman: You think?
McNulty: In the Poe Homes, no
fucking way . . .