As a young writer, though I didn't realize it at the time, I was completely enamored and thus shaped by the works of Edgar Allan Poe. I took on a full understanding of a poem for the first time through his poem, "Alone". I chose to interpret this poem for a speech class I had freshman year and, from the seemingly random personal connection I stumbled upon, I felt less fearful of my own emotions I deemed irrelevant or too difficult to understand. From there, I bought a full collection of his work and even wrote several pieces in his characteristically dark and dramatic manner. I believe Poe to be the reason I was able to convert my understanding of poetry from the need to rhyme to the need to express emotion that is so honest it reflects the overall human condition and allows solace in such.
The influence of Poe has carried over into my junior year of high school as well. Junior year being a year known to be targeted by college officials looking over transcripts, academics have gained the ability to encroach on my writing life. This only led to a substantial drain upon inspiration to write and, even more dramatically, a drain upon my desire to put effort into understanding my emotions enough to put them in complex, thoughtful writing. I again reconnected to Poe when we were given several copies of his pieces to read in a writing class, one of the pieces being "The Raven". It was not until this year that I was aware of my ability to connect and find even deeper understanding in pieces due to an accumulation of past experiences since my first connection to an artist like Poe. Therefore, the meaning of Poe's heavier works became much more complex and interesting to me. In this, Poe once again fortified my need to write.
Most memorably, the piece that I produced intentionally drawn from the work of Poe was a piece I did not submit for any classes I had. Rather, I just sat down and wrote in a notebook a poem that came from the heart instead of a prompt. It came from a connection as well as a need to sort through the complications I had been facing then. The poem was not exactly grounded in the way that Poe does, but it was honest and one of the few things I've crafted that I feel connected to as I know it is not something I'd want others to read. I realize that it has potential to be shared and understood, but I feel that comfort with that level of publicity of self is something i still need to work on. Again, Poe can serve as a role model for this as well. Though I'm not quite a complete expert on the actions of Poe in his mental process of publication, I still recognize that he put himself in his work and chose to put it out into the world at one point or another. I wish to follow my own footsteps, of course, but it's always good to have a guiding inspiration to look to ahead.
- Kathryn Wallis, Junior Art Editor