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    Panel to discuss “Poe Statue Project” at Boston College

    Stefanie Rocknak’s 18-inch-tall model of “Poe Returning to Boston,” carved in basswood.
    Stefanie Rocknak’s 18-inch-tall model of “Poe Returning to Boston,” carved in basswood.

    BRINGING POE HOME: Newton resident Paul Lewis, an English professor at Boston College, will mark Edgar Allan Poe’s 205th birthday next Sunday at an event providing an overview of the public art initiative commemorating his ties to Boston.

    Lewis, chairman of the Edgar Allan Poe Foundation of Boston, will participate in a panel discussion, “The Poe Statue Project: Public Art, Creativity, Politics, and the Law,” at 3 p.m. in Room 101 of BC’s Devlin Hall, 140 Commonwealth Ave. in Chestnut Hill.

    He will be joined by Boston Art Commission director Karin Goodfellow, Boston arts lawyer Andrew Epstein, and Hartwick College associate philosophy professor Stefanie Rocknak, who created a work in wood, “Poe Returning to Boston,’’ that is being prepared for display in the author’s original hometown as a life-size bronze sculpture.


    The panelists will address the legal, artistic, political, and fund-raising challenges of the project, its current status, and the public art process. Organizers, who are in the final phase of fund-raising, hope to install the sculpture this year in Boston’s Edgar Allen Poe Square, at Boylston and Charles streets.

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    Poe was born in Boston in 1809, and returned in 1827 to his birth city, where he published works including “Tamerlane and Other Poems,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “Hop-Frog.”

    According to Lewis, Poe deserves the tribute because he challenged contemporaries such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Margaret Fuller, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, deriding them as “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,” Lewis says.

    For more information on next Sunday’s event, contact Lewis at 617-552-3710 or paul.lewis@bc.edu.


    SWEET GESTURE: Every December for the past 10 years, students at the Fay School in Southborough have raised funds for charity by selling candy-cane greetings. This holiday season’s effort held special meaning, with seventh- to ninth-graders raising more than $1,500 for the Spaulding Hospital for Continuing Medical Care Cambridge as a tribute to a Fay alumna from Sudbury.

    The gift honors Aubrey Baumbach , a Lafayette College freshman who was critically injured in a hit-and-run accident as she walked with fellow members of the crew team after a practice in November. She has been continuing her recovering at Spaulding, where she was transferred after her initial treatment in Pennsylvania.

    Fay art teacher Billy Claire, who with English teacher Deb Smith advises the dozen students coordinating the $1 “candy-cane-o-gram’’ sale, said he was heartened by the response. The drive exceeded the $1,000 goal for the first time, partly thanks to an anonymous $250 gift from a Fay parent and the donation of 1,200 candy canes by a Concord real estate agency, Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty.

    “Our students, colleagues, and everyone around us really went the extra distance to support the fund-raiser,” Claire said. “It’s an amazing thing.”

    ADOPTION OPTION: In 1989, Marlene Fine and Fern Johnson of Carlisle decided to adopt a child, and expected to be working with an international organization. But then the women — who are white — learned about the large number of black children in foster care across the United States.


    “It turned us upside down,” Johnson recalled.

    Just four months later, they welcomed 4-week-old William into their home. Two years after that, they waited a similarly short period before 4-month-old Julius joined their family.

    Fine, a communications professor at Simmons College, and Johnson, a sociolinguist in the English department at Clark University, recently wrote the book they wish had been available to them at the time. They will discuss “The Interracial Adoption Option: Creating a Family Across Race” on Wednesday at the Nashoba Brooks School, 200 Strawberry Hill Road in Concord.

    The authors will begin signing copies of the book at 6:30 p.m., and then offer a presentation and take part in a panel discussion with adoptive parents moderated by Charles Streff, a former consulting psychologist at the Fenn School in Concord who is now in clinical practice in Acton.

    Despite their academic knowledge of race and culture, Johnson said, she and Fine realized early on that there was still much to learn. In their book, they describe their personal experiences, offer practical advice, and share vignettes from others regarding skin and hair care, school issues, creating a support system, the importance of a healthy racial identify, and what to do if you suspect your child is being treated unfairly because of race.

    As a example of how even innocent incidents can feel prejudicial, Fine recalls becoming increasingly frustrated when Julius, a talented trumpet player, never performed a solo in the middle school band. By the third year, she was prepared to confront the band director — until Julius informed her that he had turned down multiple invitations to do so.

    Fine said their hope is for the book to serve as a useful resource for those interested in issues of race, as well as individuals pursuing adoption.

    “Ultimately, we want to share with people what has been an incredibly empowering and joyful journey,” she added, “in hope that others might join us.”

    The book event is cosponsored by Nashoba Brooks and the Fenn School. For more information on their book, visit the publisher’s website, www.jkp.com .

    HAPPY DAY, POPEYE: Watertown resident Fred Grandinetti has teamed with New York actor Cuyle Carvin once again to wish Popeye a happy 85th birthday on Friday.

    The spinach-loving sailor man first appeared in the daily King Features comic strip “Thimble Theatre” (later renamed “Popeye”) by Elzie Crisler Segar on Jan. 17, 1929.

    In the brief segment on Grandinetti’s award-winning cable-access series “Drawing With Fred,” Popeye squeezes open a can of spinach and the contents land in Carvin’s mouth. As Carvin flexes his biceps, images of Popeye over the years appear on his chest.

    Grandinetti, author of three books and numerous articles about Popeye, noted that the character’s determination was an inspiration during the Great Depression. Popeye was also the first comic-strip superhero, predating Superman’s emergence in 1938, he said.

    “It is always a pleasure for me to come up with creative ways to honor Popeye’s achievements,” Grandinetti said.

    “Drawing With Fred” airs in Watertown, Needham, Salem, and New Bedford, and can be viewed at www.facebook.com/drawingwithfred.

    People items may be submitted to Cindy Cantrell at cindy-cantrell20@gmail.com.