The City of Boston’s Edward Ingersoll Browne Trust Fund has awarded a $75,000 grant to the Edgar Allan Poe Foundation of Boston. These funds will support the installation of a permanent statue honoring Poe in the square dedicated to him by Mayor Tom Menino in 2009 at the intersection of Boylston Street and Charles Street South. The Poe Foundation has now raised 3/4ths of the $200,000 needed to fabricate and install the statue.
“This is a major step towards the home stretch in making the dream of the statue a reality,” said John LaFleur, President of the Poe Foundation. “We’re looking for contributors who have been considering support to help conclude the campaign quickly so we can schedule an installation date.”
On June 23rd, the city’s Public Improvement Commission approved the installation plan for the statue, and on July 23, the Boston Arts Commission gave final approval to the statue’s design. With these approvals in place, Stefanie Rocknak—the sculptor whose design was chosen from 265 proposals—has begun the work of transforming an 18” carved wooden model into a life-sized bronze statue that will be called Poe Returning to Boston. “The Browne Fund’s support has been vital to the project from the outset,” Rocknak noted.
“Not many people may know of Poe’s personal ties to Boston, but through Poe Returning to Boston our city’s role as the birthplace of Edgar Allan Poe will finally be recognized and celebrated,” said Mayor Menino who has supported the project from the outset.
“Ms. Rocknak’s experience in wood carving and philosophy lend a unique approach to the bronze rendering of Poe. The sculpture tells a story of Poe’s complicated creative relationship with Boston as his papers and stories slip from the bag he carries home,” added Karin Goodfellow, Director of the Boston Arts Commission.
While the Poe Foundation continues to focus on fundraising, Rocknak is directing the fabrication process. Skylight Studios of Woburn, Mass. will assist in the creation of a 6’ carvable foam version of the piece that Rocknak will adjust, cover in clay, and sculpt into its final form. The clay-covered figure will then be cut into separate parts for use in the creation of wax molds that will be cast in bronze by New England Sculpture Services of Chelsea, Mass.
“Poe deserves this tribute,” says Boston College English professor and Poe Foundation chair Paul Lewis, “not despite, but because he quarreled with Boston-based writers of his time, whom he called ‘Frogpondians’ and ‘so-called transcendentalists.’ By resisting then-fashionable didacticism and promoting literature for its own sake, Poe became a foundational figure in the development of popular culture.”
Other major contributors to the project include the Highland Street Foundation, the Hildreth Stewart Foundation, the Poe Studies Association, Steven and Tabitha King, Susan Jaffe Tane, Michael Moskow, Jack Joyce, and Poe fans from Boston and around the world.
The Poe-Boston Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation, invites supporters to visit its website and Facebook page to learn more about and contribute to the project. Information about upcoming events sponsored by the Foundation—including walking tours of Poe’s Boston on Sunday, September 22, and Sunday, October 20, can also be found on our Facebook page.
Poe-Boston Foundation: www.bostonpoe.org
Poe-Boston Foundation on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bostonpoe
Supported by a planning grant from the city’s Browne Fund, the Poe Foundation of Boston has moved through the first four years of what we expect will be a 5-year undertaking. In 2009 we began to think about ways to memorialize Poe’s connections to the city of his birth. In 2011 we issued a call for artists that resulted in 265 applications from which 3 finalists were chosen. After a period during which about 1,500 people commented on these designs, a statue called Poe Returning to Boston by Stefanie Rocknak was selected. Rocknak describes the work as "a life-size figure in bronze, approximately 5’ 8” tall. Just off the train, Poe is walking south towards his place of birth. With a trunk full of ideas—and worldwide success—he is finally coming home.”
An award-winning member of the Sculptors Guild whose artwork has appeared in numerous publications and in more than 40 exhibitions including at the Smithsonian, Stefanie Rocknak is also an associate professor of philosophy and the director of the Cognitive Science Program at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, where she has taught since 2001. A graduate of Colby College in Waterville, Maine, with a B.A. in American Studies and Art History with a concentration in studio art, she holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Boston University. Her interests include the 18th-century Scottish philosopher David Hume (the subject of her forthcoming book), the philosophy of art, and the philosophy of the mind.