Edgar Allan Poe Mystery/National Poetry Centre – Poetry News Roundup February 28th

Our final poetry news round-up of the week brings an article about Edgar Allan Poe and takes a look a the plan for a National Poetry Centre.

The Mystery of the Death of Edgar Allan Poe

The famed American writer Edgar Allan Poe died in October 1849. Just a few days before he died, he had been found wearing the clothes of a stranger and in a state of delirium.

He was just 40 when he died and the nature of his death still remains rather unclear. Over the years, scholars have looked at possible causes of death that might explain Poe’s last days including syphilis and rabies. Charles Baudelaire, a contemporary of Poe suggested that the incident was almost a suicide in nature.

It may seem that a suicide suggestion is a little dramatic. However, there may just have been something in Baudelaire’s theory. After all, Poe was well known for his dark and rather gruesome works. Poe was someone who had a history of both substance and alcohol abuse as well, and he had previously attempted to commit suicide.

All of the suggestions regarding Poe’s death have been speculation. There was never an autopsy and there are no surviving medical records from the time. However, now new light has been shed on the mystery.

Using text-analytic methods, researchers have been able to look closely at the works that Poe created in order to gain a better understanding of the man he was and the ideas that surrounded him as well as the problems that he met in life. There are well-established links between depression, suicidal thoughts and language. Research has indicated over time that those who are depressed use language differently to those who are not.

This research has looked at the diaries of some people who were known to have committed suicide in order to study the way in which they used words, talking more about “me” and less about “we”.

Using this analysis to plot Poe’s language into a graph, researchers found there were clear peaks that coincide with both his attempted suicide and his death. This has led to the belief that his final days were rather dark, and he was certainly heading towards a depressive state. Whilst this does not prove conclusively that his death was from suicide it certainly ranks him high as a suicide risk. Of course, we shall probably never know the true nature of his death but this new research is certainly interesting.

National Poetry Centre Announced for Leeds

The poet laureate Simon Armitage has announced plans to develop a National Poetry Centre in Leeds.

Armitage wants to bring poetry in line with other nationals arts, which all have their own venues and headquarters. It is hoped that the centre will be open in time for Leeds 2023 – the event when for 12 months the city of Leeds will play host to a number of cultural events.

There is currently no funding source for the project and a site has yet to be identified.

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