Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday Muse Asks Did You Know? (Halloween)

This post is another in an occasional series about poets and poems that aims to offer information you might not know. Today's items all relate to Halloween.

Did You Know . . . 

✦ The poem "Halloween" by Bard of Scotland Robert Burns (1759-1796) runs 252 lines; it has 28 stanzas and introduces readers to 20 narrative characters, none of whom bob for apples. In addition to witches, wizards, and fairies, the poem, written in Scots and English in 1785, includes a few practical spells, as well as Burns's own footnotes about traditions and practices. It's believed that Burns was inspired by a Halloween poem by John Mayne (1759-1836), which was published in November 1780. To hear a reading of "Halloween", go here.

✦ The English Romantic John Keats was born on Halloween in 1795. 

✦ Said to be a believer in the supernatural, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) wrote that "all houses wherein men have lived and died / Are haunted houses." Skeptical? Go here for a lesson plan for "Haunted Houses".

✦ The Science Fiction Poetry Association, founded in 1978, celebrates Halloween annually. Among the poets whose work you'll find at SFPA is Michael A. Arnzen, author of The Gorelets Omnibus: Collected Poems 2001-2011

✦ Vampires have caught the attention of poets as diverse as Lord Byron ("The Giaour"), Goethe ("The Bride of Corinth"), Rudyard Kipling ("The Vampire"), and Conrad Aiken ("The Vampire"), while ghosts have haunted the words of John Donne ("The Apparition"), Donald Justice "(Ode to a Dressmaker's Dummy"), Carolyn Forche ("Sequestered Writing"), and Rae Armantrout ("Unbidden").

✦ This year on Halloween, Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" will be performed every twenty minutes, between 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., inside the historic Rosson House in Phoenix, Arizona. (See image to right.) It's just one of a number of PoetFest events that aims to send a tingle down your spine and raise a hair or two.

✦ The Academy of American Poets has crafted its own Poetry Haunted House. Enter at your own risk and dare to come out with a few suggestions of your own for a chilling gathering of wordsmiths. 

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