if you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered

Edgar Allan Poe is one of my favourite writers. He is one of the only authors whose catalogue of work I have read in its entirety, and one of the only ones I often keep going back to.

I fast-tracked most of my English courses (and some Fine Art) while in high school. Meaning I took everything a year, to a year and a half ahead of the rest of my grade. I did this because I wanted to fit in as many arts courses as possible, and my school had advanced English and creative writing. English was mandatory, creative writing was an elective. So while my others opted for free periods, I spent my time in class or at the library studying Poe, Goethe and Blake. A time-turner really would have come in handy, considering I was also working 24 hours a week at this time as a coffee wench.

There were times when I hated being the youngest one in the class, but I also loved it, even though I did come up against some resistance from a few teachers along the way who thought I was “too young for the material.” I remember specifically getting into an argument with my grade eleven teacher who thought I was too young to understand Macbeth (then I would have been just 16). She never truly elaborated on her reasoning, I remember a lot of “because” in the conversation. As punishment for me talking back to her, I had to write an extra essay on the different types of tragedy in Macbeth or something of that nature. I remember her comment on the paper was so flippant and along the lines of “Best of luck with Hamlet”, which was the Shakespeare play on the grade twelve reading list.

I never understood the “too young for the material” remark, as I’m a firm believer one is never too young for anything if the subject is explained properly, and questions are allowed. Do I think you may have a different understanding reading something at 15 then you do at say 25, 40 or 50, etc? Sure. But that doesn’t mean the first time you read it means anything less than the last. If anything it provides more layers.

I digress. Back to Poe.

I first read Poe at the start of high school, and every time I have read his work since I’m finding new things, catching new references and still having that feeling I did the first time I read anything by him – a bit of awe mixed with sadness.

It’s the 201st anniversary of his birth today, and I wish there were more clips on the web besides The Raven. Alas…

And speaking of literary greats…thought this was rather interesting.

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8 Comments

Filed under life, literature, poetry

8 responses to “if you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered

  1. I think you are so right about repeated readings adding layers of understanding to a subject, and certainly 16 is not too young to understand MacBeth. They are studying it much younger than that now, without any lack of understanding.

    But happy birthday, Mr Poe! You scary!

  2. iduality

    I remember going to the festival theatre in Stratford to see Macbeth when I was 8. We studied Twelfth Night in grade two when I was living there as well. Definitely had deeper meaning when I read it later in life, but I still recall understanding it at the age. I think my teacher was annoyed because I always argued. ;)

  3. You would think that most teachers would welcome debate! Especially in English class. Sounds like that one really should have been a parking lot attendant.

  4. Most do. This one was the exception. I never had any luck with female English teachers in high school. Found they were never open to debate like the male ones were.

  5. That’s too bad, really, that you had a teacher like that wasn’t as open to discussion/debate. I would have hated to have a teacher tell me that I’m too young to understand something. I was lucky to have teachers that wanted to push us further, and inspire us – not tell us no and not really want to explain why.

    Anywho, sadly, the Raven pretty much sums up my knowledge of Poe, and it may or may not be due to the Simpsons. :P

  6. iduality

    For the most part, I remember high school teachers being fairly open. Not as much as profs, but if I recall this teacher in particular, English wasn’t her core subject, so she probably didn’t even want to be there.

    I had a few good high school teachers along the way though.

    Ha ha! I should have posted that clip. ;)

  7. I loved his gothic short stories

  8. Me too. I’ve got his complete works. Nice to have it all bound in one place.

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