Eurovision 2023: Who the Hell is Edgar Allan Poe?
Austria's Eurovision entry has had us singing the words “who the hell is Edgar” since it was released in March… but who the hell actually is Edgar?
The song by Teya and Salena was written by the pair at a song writing camp, which reference Edgar Allan Poe ("poe poe poe"). The clever use of Poe as the subject of their song is pertinent to the theme and message on a number of levels.
Who is he?
Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer and literary critic who lived from 1809 to 1949. He was most known for his poetry and stories, which were often written with themes of horror, morbidity and loss.
His most recognised piece of work is a poem called the ‘The Raven’, which was published in 1845. Some of his fiction publications that have become literary classics are ‘The Gold Bug’, ‘The Black Cat’ and ‘The Masque of the Red Death’.
He is noted as being one of the earliest known writers to make his living from writing alone, and due to this, he’s known to have lived a difficult life, often not being paid fairly or at all by the journals that published his work. He also claimed to have been plagiarised by other writers and was alienated from their circles.
He battled alcoholism and suffered from the loss of his wife, before dying under mysterious circumstances in 1849. He was found semi-conscious and delusional in the street, later dying in hospital without explanation of what had happened.
His work has gone on to inspire generations of writers since, particularly in the horror genre.
Later in the 19th century there’s known to have been ‘Spirit Writers’, who claimed to have been able to channel the spirits of the dead, with publications claiming to have been written under the possession of Edgar Allan Poe – just as Teya and Selena portray in ‘Who the Hell is Edgar’.
Other appearances in modern pop culture
Poe often makes appearances in pop culture today. Recently he was featured in the popular Netflix series ‘Wednesday’, with the boarding school attended by Wednesday Adams being called ‘Nevermore’ (featured in a line from ‘The Raven’), and Wednesday needing to solve riddles related to Poe’s work in order unlock a room, guarded by an Edgar Alen Poe statue. In an episode the students also compete in a boat race called 'The Edgar Alan Poe Cup', with each team in the race named after one of his poems.
Fans of ‘The Simpsons’ probably also remember the classic episode ‘The Treehouse of Horror’ featuring three short stories – one being ‘The Raven’ where Lisa reads Poe’s poem, and Bart is depicted as the raven, tormenting Homer.
In 2012, John Cusack starred as Poe in a film called ‘The Raven’, which told the story of his mysterious death.
Poe has also turned up in episodes of ‘South Park’, ‘Sabrina, the Teenage Witch’, ‘Gilmore Girls’, ‘Epic Rap Battles of History’ and ‘Altered Carbon’
There have also been numerous films, books, plays and musicals dedicated to telling the story of Poe’s life referencing his work and impact on the literary world.
Now surfacing at this year’s contest, Edgar Allan Poe continues to make his cultural mark, 200 years on.
You can find more on Teya and Salena's song 'Who The Hell is Edgar' in our interview with them here.
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