The Big Read: Shades of Poe is a month-long celebration inspiring San Diegans to read Edgar Allan Poe through visual art, performances, music, exhibits, and celebrity appearances. Here’s a full schedule.

Write Out Loud’s most ambitious project to date, the NEA-sponsored The Big Read: Shades of Poe is coming to a close on May 1. What a month this has been! We have appeared in libraries, community centers, bookstores, theaters, parks, trolley stations and street corners encouraging San Diegans of all ages and descriptions to read the stories and poems of a great American master, Edgar Allan Poe; to read him not for a grade, not for an obligation, but just for fun.

To make our message persuasive, we collaborated with authors, actors, singers, dancers, writers, and teaching artists. We forged partnerships with organizations as diverse as the San Diego Public Library and the San Diego Opera; the North County Times to the San Diego Reader to the Voice of San Diego. This collective effort has touched San Diegans all over the region.

Our giant puppet, Edgar, attracted the attention of thousands with his appearances at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, The La Jolla Atheneaum Music & Arts Library, The Salvation Army Kroc Center and trolley stations from Santee to Chula Vista. We’ve had folks dancing with Eveoke Dance Theatre, painting with Writerz Blok, creating with A Reason to Survive, writing with Playwrights Project and listening raptly to Poe accompanied by civic organist Carol Williams at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park.

April has been such a busy and intense month of activity, that it is easy to forget that it was only one part of The Big Read: Shades of Poe project. It really began in earnest last fall: in September with teacher workshops; in October in classrooms and student workshops at the Salvation Army Kroc Center and the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation. It is just as fair to say it began last winter when we met with friends and supporters to brainstorm the project even before we submitted the proposal to the National Endowment for the Arts. This has truly been a multi-faceted collaboration.

And we aren’t quite finished yet! If you have been left out of the festivities it’s not too late to get in on the “Poe-volution. ” On Monday, April 30 at 6:30 p.m. at San Diego Central Library you can catch a screening of Roger Corman’s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” with guest speaker/film historian, Scott Marks.

Finally, on Tuesday, May 1, the last two chances to participate: “Stories by Poe” (and others) at Grossmont College Literary Arts Festival at 2:00 p.m. in building 26, or a 6:00 p.m. wine tasting and reading of “The Cask of Amontillado” at the San Pasqual Wine Tasting Room in downtown La Mesa.

It has been a great honor for us to mount The Big Read: Shades of Poe. We hope you were able to attend some of the offerings during April. Even if you did not — particularly if you did not — we hope you’ll pick up that thick volume on your bookshelf, “The Works of Edgar Allan Poe,” and turn to a story or a poem whose title isn’t familiar. Read it. You’ll enjoy it.

Veronica Murphy and Walter Ritter are the co-founders of Write Out Loud.

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