The Wyckoff Public Library kicks off its Big Read celebration of Edgar Allan Poe with a two-act opening event on Friday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. in the library's brand-new Shotmeyer Room.
First, John Gruesser, Ph.D., president of the Poe Studies Association, presents "Quoth the Raven: Eat My Shorts! The Life, Literature and Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe." Gruesser's biographical sketch will explain the duality of Poe's immense impact on our culture. In the 19th century, Poe created some of the most celebrated works in American literature but reaped few rewards in his lifetime. In the 21st century, however, he is such a part of pop culture that even the incorrigibly flippant Bart Simpson quotes him.
Gruesser is a professor of English at Kean University in Union, NJ, and the author of four scholarly books. He recently edited A Century of Detection: Twenty Great Mystery Stories, 1841-1940, which includes three Poe stories.
Act Two of the kickoff evening is "The Poe Show,” the acclaimed one-man performance of Poe stories and poems by actor/director Tony Tsendeas. Part Shakespearean soliloquy, part spine-tingling ghost story, Tsendeas's interpretations of Poe's works are uniquely his own, and they have thrilled nationwide audiences for years.
Tsendeas was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for his direction of Wittenberg on Columbia, MD's Rep Stage. He also was nominated for best actor at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for Beckettland. An actor who also teaches, Tsendeas serves on the theater faculty of the Baltimore School for the Arts and as Artistic Associate of the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival.
The Big Read in Wyckoff runs from September 27 to November 9 and is cosponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Friends of the Wyckoff Library. Now in its seventh year and managed by Arts Midwest, The Big Read is designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. Wyckoff is the sixth library in New Jersey, as well as the first in the 74-library Bergen County Cooperative Library System consortium, to ever win a Big Read grant.
A variety of additional events are planned, including Poe-inspired horror movie screenings, dynamic speakers, a New York travelogue of Poe sites, a graveyard walking tour with a special appearance by "The Raven" himself, and the finale, "Murder in the Library," on Friday, November 9. For a full calendar of events, go to wyckofflibrary.org.
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