If you could meet any writer, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you want to know?
Ira Glass: Edgar Allan Poe. I don't have a question, but dude just seems like he could use a hug.
-- From "By the Book" The New York Times Sunday Book Review.
Ira Glass: I'm a big fan of your work, Mr. Poe and delighted to have you with us on our show today.
Edgar Allan Poe: Go f*** yourself.
Ira Glass: Hahaha. Seriously, I know many of our listeners are curious as to what was the
inspiration your great poem, "The Raven."
Edgar Allan Poe: Just take a look at what was calling itself poetry in those days. You had stuff like: 'By the shores of Gitche Gumee, By the shining Big-sea water...' Or even worse: 'In Xandu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure-dome decree...' Who the hell was Kubla Khan? And Gitche Gumee? Give me a break.
Ira Glass: But why a raven?
Edgar Allan Poe: I wanted to do a parrot uttering 'never more' but there wasn't much drama in that. So I changed it to a raven. They're big, black dirty birds capable of anything.
Ira Glass: I know your love life had its ups and downs. In 1835 you married your 13-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm. After she died, you became engaged to Sarah Helen Whitman, but she broke the engagement off. And finally, you tried to resume a relationship with your childhood sweetheart, Sarah Elmira Royster.
Edgar Allan Poe: Your point?
Ira Glass: Did you ever hear the saying: lucky at cards unlucky at love?
Edgar Allan Poe: Did you ever hear the saying: punch a know-it-all in the nose and watch him bleed?
Ira Glass: Hahahaha. But let's get back to your career. You were one of the foremost masters of the short story, you were considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre, and you were the first well-known American writer to try and earn a living through writing alone. And yet with all that you were found penniless and delirious on the streets of Baltimore.
Edgar Allan Poe: So?
Ira Glass: Well, my listeners and I would love to know what happened? You had such a promising start with "The Raven."
Edgar Allan Poe: You know how much I got for the stupid bird poem? Nine dollars. That's it. Bupkus. Which brings me to my question, how much am I getting for doing this stupid interview?
Ira Glass: You'll have to talk to our producers.
Edgar Allan Poe: Oh, it's always the same run around. Talk to the producers. Or, we're not accepting any unsolicited manuscripts. And, my personal favorite: sorry but this doesn't have any legs.
Ira Glass: Before we run out of time, what advice can you give to aspiring poets and writers?
Edgar Allan Poe: Always keep a big bottle of booze at your side. If a bird starts talking nonsense to you in the middle of the night pour yourself a stiff drink. If you have a pretty 13-year-old cousin, run the other way. And most important of all, give up the whole idea of writing and get yourself a nice job in a bank.
Ira Glass: Thank you for your time, Mr. Poe. Now, how about that hug?
Edgar Allan Poe: Sure. And how about that punch in the nose?