Works of Poe celebrated at Big Read event hosted by RIC


Hedi BenAicha
“Are you fired up for reading?" asked Hedi BenAicha, director of the James P. Adams Library. The crowded auditorium of local middle and high school students erupted in cheers as the Big Read Kick-Off at Rhode Island College began.

RIC is hosting the Big Read, an initiative to promote reading created by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Literary Services.


David Keltz performs as Edgar Allan Poe.
(Photo: Annie Smith)
The kick-off event – which celebrated the works of American writer and poet Edgar Allan Poe – was held in the Nazarian Center’s Sapinsley Hall on April 7. Other activities are scheduled for this month and next.

Click here to see all the Big Read events at RIC.

David Keltz, a renowned Poe interpreter, entertained the students by performing some of Poe’s best-known works, including “Spectacles,” “The Black Cat,” “The Raven,” “Annabel Lee” and “Eldorado,” along with excerpts from letters and historical accounts of Poe.

Keltz began performing as Poe in 1991 on Halloween, at the legendary writer’s grave. He said he has committed nine Poe stories to memory – six horror tales and three comedic works.

“I try to add one new performance every year,” Keltz said, adding that he recreates Poe about 200 times a year in public and private events in front of all types of crowds.


From left, RIC professor Jean Brown, Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts, radio
host Robin Kall, RIC president Nancy Carriuolo, library director Hedi
BenAicha and Christine Taylor, director of The Big Read program.
Also at the Big Read, RIC President Nancy Carriuolo welcomed special guests Rhode Island Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts; Robin Kall, host of the local radio program “Reading with Robin;” and Christine Taylor , program director for the Big Read.

Roberts and Kall received certificates of recognition for their efforts in promoting literacy in Rhode Island.

“Just read for the pure enjoyment of it, and let it take you away,” Kall told the students.

RIC is one of 268 communities hosting Big Read events around the country. Since the program’s launch in 2007, more than 800 grants have been awarded to communities in the U.S. to host Big Reads.

For more information, visit www.neabigread.org.