The commercialization of Poe helping his legacy?

Poe is still very relevant today and has affected literature, consumer goods, music, and everything in between.  Poe’s image and images that represent Poe have been used on everything from coffee mugs, to t-shirts, to shot glasses, even the mascot for the professional football team of Baltimore. There are many arguments regarding this popularity and commercialization as hurting Poe’s image, however, the commercialization of Poe enhances his literary legacy and acts as a form of advertisement for Poe and his work.


“Poe me a cup” Mug via Etsy

In Poe’s time the image of the raven and other images related to his poetry were frequently parodied to represent Poe and used for commercial gain. Even Poe saw the popularity of some of his poems as an opportunity to make more money. He named a book that was a collection of poems after his popular poem “The Raven” calling the book The Raven and Other Poems.  Poe capitalized off of this poems success. Today, people continue to use the raven as a reference to Poe and the image of Poe as a way of selling a product.  While, the commercialization of Poe and related images has definitely been arguably abused and even overused, it doesn’t have a negative effect on his legacy. Instead it’s the opposite, it aids his literary legacy.

The brands, companies, and products using Poe’s image and related images are sometimes involuntarily evoking a sense of literary elitism. For example, a luxury apartment in downtown Baltimore is called The Lenore and uses a raven in their company logo. In order to understand the reference, you need to be familiar with and understand the poem. This makes knowing Poe seem exclusive and cool. This then can help enhance and heighten his literary legacy.


The Lenore Luxury Apartments via The Baltimore Sun

However, this isn’t always the case. A lot of other products use the image of Poe and related images on everyday items like mugs, t-shirts, shot glasses, and even in memes. I think although knowledge of the stories and poems referenced in these items aren’t necessarily required, it can encourage and expose young students and kids to Poe and spark new interest in him and his stories. For instance, the mascot of the professional football team in Baltimore is the raven. When kids attend games, they may wonder where the name of the raven came from and therefore be interested in reading and learning more about Poe. Another example is a pun on a mug or another consumer good. When an everyday item uses an image of Poe along with a related joke, in order to understand it, you need to be familiar with Poe and his work. This both can spark the interest of younger kids to learn more about Poe as well as be seen as evoking literary elitism.


Baltimore Ravens via Baltimore Ravens Website

Products, brands, and companies that are using images related to Poe maybe seen as being too aggressive and are abusing Poe. However, it is publicity that helps to get Poe’s name out to more people and to younger generations.  Poe’s legacy is much more than just consumer goods. What keeps Poe relevant is his unique story, his tragic life, and mysterious death. It’s the allure of his life closely mimicking his stories that is so mesmerizing. His story and his stories are relatable even when they are extreme. Everyone can relate to the crazy in Poe’s stories. Poe’s image and images related to Poe are very identifiable and when used on consumer products can help promote interest in Poe and his work.

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