Interview Essay-Creative and Critical Thinking
An interview with Edgar Allan Poe
Can a person be taught how to write if he wasn’t born a writer? This has been a controversial debate in the literary circles. However, the answer notwithstanding, one thing is coherent: some people write with a natural easiness while others struggle writing. One decorated author who writes with a natural easiness is Edgar Allan Poe. Poe is perhaps best renown for his literary works The Fall of the House of Usher. However, there are other wittily authored works among them the macabre The Cask of Amontillado.
Thesis statement: There is no writer who is dyed-in-the wool, anyone can become a writer; aim and dedication are the ingredients
Poe has graced the literary scene for a long time. His works are just irresistible to literature lovers. Born in 1809 to David and Eliza Poe, both actors, he has withstood the rough waters in his literary endeavors. Orphaned as a little boy, informally adopted, dropped out of University of Virginia due to lack of fees, and widowered in his early adulthood; his is a story that depicts a dedicated author, his eyes cast on success, and nothing less (Charles). Perhaps, as they say, his tribulations could be likened to the saying: oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure, as Peter Marshall soberly piped. But according to Poe, are these “strong winds” molded him? This was the reason I booked an interview with him.
I had been tracking Poe for sometime. He was always elusive but when we coincidentally met at a cafeteria in downtown Maryland, it couldn’t have been more lucky. Pity, he never knew me. I went ahead and introduced myself and he mumbled the words, “so you love my literature, huh?” He beckoned the waitress and served us strong tea. I asked him if what inspired him to write and earn a living by writing alone. His answer was simple: his love for writing. I booked an appointment with him for an interview and here we were after church service at a roadside cafeteria.
I am amazed by the way authors yarn a literary work from scratch. So what is it that motivate them to start writing such stories? Well, to find out the answer to the question that crossed my mind, I directed it to Poe. “What inspired you to write the story, The Cask of Amontillado?” He made a light laughter and a smile tugged the corners of his mouth before he quipped, “The Cask of Amontillado, huh? To start with, a cask is type of container used to store liquids. I think the meaning of Amontillado goes without saying.” He gave me an inquisitive look and when I didn’t respond to it, he continued. “Amontillado is a type of sherry and I think it’s meant to be drunk, or isn’t it?” He was ribbing and I gave a hearty laugh. It must have been fun in conversation that he imported to his writing. Already, his mouth was watering. “It is my drink. I was inspired by a story that my ears caught at Castle Island back in 1827 when I served in the armed forces. The story was about Massie who was killed by Liutenant Drane on a sword duel on a card game gone sour. That was the basis of the story. I tailored that story with fictional decoration.”
When he stopped talking momentarily, I went ahead to the next question, saying the words in sweet solemnity, “How did you come up with the title?” The pupils of his eyes gazed at me as if they could see through me before he started. “It was some kind of a fateful endeavor. There is an author that even up to day, we are more than literary sworn enemies and we mete out one literary jab after another to each other. His name is Thomas Dunn English. English’s work are extreme and in the last decade, in 1846, I sued his editors at The New York Mirror for damaging my reputation. English countermeasured by publishing a novel titled 1844, or, The Power of the S.F., and then there another one, The Black Crow, linking me to secret societies and made several references to my poem The Raven using terms like “lost Lenore’ and “Nevermore” (J. Lasley)He painted my character as an alcoholic, a liar and a brutal lover. The I too revenged with my book basing it on a section in English’s novel occurring in a subterranean vault.”
When he paused, I asked the next question, “What is the most important lack in your life?” I would say a settled life. I was orphaned as a little boy. I never got enough fees to complete my university education and my dearest one died in 1847. You see, I never had had enough before it was snatched was snatched away from me.” As he said this, his eyes were filmy and I could understand it was a great determination that he pushed back tears. I couldn’t delve into the question because I hate to see the tears of an adult, especially a man. I hurriedly introduced the next question. “ What is the most demeaning thing said about you as a writer?” He focused his eyes and replied, “I believe characters are portrayal of living things (Allen & Gary). The most demeaning said about me, albeit in a character form was by my rival writer English in his work The Black Crow whereby he portrayed me as an abusive lover (Harold). It greatly contrasts with my deep love for my late dear wife.” Why was I always reminding him about his departed wife? I tried to change the trend of the questions.
“How do you react to a bad review?” I hurriedly introduced the next question. He dismissed it with a crafty hand and added, “Positively. I for sure know one thing, the reviewers are not there to win hospitality awards. I appreciate the work of book reviewers and I understand regardless of the nature of the reviews, no one hasn’t faults.” Then he added with a light laugher, “No matter what, you don’t sweep dust under carpet.” “Remarkably put,” I said and introduced the next question, “You were awarded $ 50 and $100 by the Baltimore Saturday Visiter and the Dollar Newspaper for your work MS. Found in a Bottle and The Gold Bug respectively. Was that life’s best moment.” “With the inconsistent payments by the publishers, it was good. But no, my best moment was when my dear Virginia was alive. Not anymore.” He was always delving into his demised wife, I tried to change the trend of the questions once again, “Are the names of the characters in The Cask of Amontillado?” He pillowed his cheek on his palm and said, “The writer has to liken the characters to people’s behaviors but names are not extremely important though, a writer can choose names that sound or look like the character depicted.” “Have you ever though of yourself as a character in a literary work?” I chirped in the next question. “With my addiction to alcohol, yes, I have thought and portrayed myself as one in my story in a bid to show the people the consequences of drinking and this is the message that I want my readers to see.” I asked the last question, “It is now in the 21st century, is there anything that you want to say to your readers or change in your story?” Standing up and beckoning the waitress for the bill, he said, “Edward Lytton once aptly piped that “the pen is mightier than the sword.” One can describe ethereal worlds by writing. Readers should lose themselves from the monotonous life into literary works not only mine but also by others.”
In conclusion, Poe has greatly influenced the literary scene. His literary style and themes transcended borders. He was a poet, an author and a literary critic who introduced the genre of detective and science fiction. It seems that his troubled past influenced his writing. He died but his legacy lives on.
Baudelaire, C. “The Works of Edgar Allan Poe.” Kraus Press, 2008.
Bloom, H. “Edgar Allan Poe.” New York, NY: Infobase Publishing, 2008.
EMCP. “English Language Learners.” Retrieved April 24, 2012 from http://www.emcp.com/georgiapreview/grade9/files/ELL/00i-290_Gr9_ELL.pdf
Poe, E. A. & Kelly, G. “The Cask of Amontillado.” Mankato, Minnesota: The Creative company, 2008.