Curt Dale Clark, artistic director at Maine State Music Theatre, reads “The Raven” during a new storytime for adults at Curtis Memorial Library. A cutout of Edgar Allan Poe, the poem’s author, stands behind him. (Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record)

BRUNSWICK — Curtis Memorial Library got a bit spookier on Friday, and it wasn’t just a result of the skulls piled in the corner and the bats hanging in cages from the ceiling. 

To introduce a new, suspenseful story time, this one geared toward adults, Maine State Music Theatre’s Curt Dale Clark read two classics from an author he said was the “undisputed American master of mystery and the macabre” — Edgar Allan Poe. 

Clark read two of Poe’s best-known works, 1843’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and 1845’s “The Raven.” 

A skeleton and stuffed bird are part of a new October Edgar Allan Poe exhibit at Curtis Memorial Library. In the background, Curt Dale Clark reads “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Poe. (Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record)

As the inaugural reading of what librarians hope will be a longstanding adult story hour, Clark’s Poe selection worked in tandem with the library’s monthlong Poe exhibit in the Collaboratory. The walls were decorated with spooky photographs and ornate mirrors, photos of Poe and flickering electric candles. 

Next week’s “Thrilling Tales” will be presented by Phyllis Blackstone and members of the Brunswick Area Storytelling Society. 

Storytelling and reading aloud is the art form that has “suffered the most” since the advent of the television and film industry, Clark said Friday. It is more powerful when seen in one’s own mind and not on a screen, he said, adding, “I don’t want to see it, I want to hear it.” 

This is exactly what Sarah Brown, adult services manager for the library, hopes to convey to others. 

“We have all kinds of story times for kids,” she said, “but there’s value for literature read out loud, and we wanted to offer that experience for adults.” 

The stories and poems selected will likely be suspenseful or frightening, especially through Halloween, and are intended for older audiences. Each week will feature a different guest reader. 

The new program is a “beta project,” still early in the trial process, but Brown said she was excited to see how many people in the audience were “enthralled” with the reading. 

Though many may see reading aloud as a pastime reserved for children, for centuries, especially when being able to read was a skill reserved for the wealthy, books, stories and poems were performed for audiences. To this day, many contend that poetry, with its rhymes and meter, should be read aloud. Clark and Brown said Poe used to offer dramatic readings of his work all the time ad children used to follow him around in the streets and ask him to recite pieces of “The Raven.” 

Hearing the stories and poems read aloud is just “another way to interact with literature,” something Brown said the library is always interested in promoting. 

No matter the age, there is value in live storytelling, she said. “It’s just powerful.” 

The next “Thrilling Tales” hour is noon to 1 p.m. Friday at Curtis Memorial Library. 

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