The Search for Baltimore’s Next Poe Toaster

Midnightdreary via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0 
Midnightdreary via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0  / Midnightdreary via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0 

Since the 1940s, a mysterious visitor has been celebrating Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday by visiting his original grave in Baltimore each year and leaving a bottle of cognac and three roses. Little is known about the identity (or identities) of the “Poe Toaster,” and awaiting his or her appearance has become something of a cult tradition among local Poe enthusiasts. That is, until 2010, when the annual visits ceased

In an effort to keep the tradition alive, the Maryland Historical Society is collaborating with Poe Baltimore and Westminster Burying Grounds to hold a competition to find the next Poe Toaster. Anyone who’s interested in assuming the role can submit a 75- to 100-word pitch for a three-minute performance honoring the life and spirit of Edgar Allan Poe, who died October 7, 1849. Their press release states that the presentation can be “anything within the bounds of the imagination—a dramatic reading, song, interpretive dance—you name it, as long as it’s connected to our dear friend Edgar.”

From the submissions they receive, 10 to 12 finalists will be chosen to compete in front of three “celebrity” judges at the Maryland Historical Society. The audience will then decide which competitor is worthy of the honor of toasting Poe’s grave on his upcoming birthday, January 19, as well as at other events during the year.

The deadline for applications is October 23, and the Maryland Historical Society says they will accept videos, drawings, and storyboards as additional support for the written pitches. And while it sounds like a perfect fit for reality TV, the only way to watch the competition is by traveling to Baltimore.

[h/t: Baltimore Sun]