Dead Poets Society: how to have a very poetic Halloween…
OK, so Halloween is three days away — what are you going to do to mark the event? Going guising? Apple-dooking? Horror movies? Or just lying on the floor with all the lights off avoiding trick-or-treaters? Whatever your thoughts, here are a few ways to bring the poeticness this All Hallows Eve…
Dress as a dead writer.
Fairly obvious, but come on… this is way cooler than digging out your trusty paper witch’s hat or shoving some bunny ears on your head and pretending you’re Frank from Donnie Darko. I love Halloween, but even I’m guilty of recycling costumes (it’s basically the only day one can wear a lime green evening gown, so I’m getting my money’s worth from that thing, dammit!). You only get to do this once a year so really, you ought to do it well! Dressing as a dead writer is as easy or complex as you want to make it, and lets face it, you look a million times smarter and cooler than That Guy who always shows up wrapped in toilet roll. Suggestions? Hunter S Thompson is an easy one — loud shirt, shades, cigar, and you’re good to go. Find yourself a big floppy hat and a cigarette holder and go as Dorothy Parker. Or if you like a challenge, I daresay William Shakespeare would win anyone’s Best Costume contest.
Throw a Halloween poetry reading.
Halloween-themed poetry only, with bonus points for fancy dress, scary voices and histrionics. You could read your own stuff, or recite classic creepy poems from years gone by — Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven,’ Walter de la Mare’s ‘The Listeners,’ etc. Decorate your reading venue and have a bring your own pumpkin policy (seriously: ANY Halloween party should have a Bring Your Own Pumpkin policy. I always request that people bring one along and the room always looks AWESOME with creepy illuminated pumpkin faces dotted around everywhere!).
Invent your own (literary) ghost walk.
Why pay a pretty penny to be dragged round a bunch of tourist spots when you could invent your own tour? Fuse the ghost walk concept with the literary pub crawl and you’re onto a winner. Research your local area for places where writers lived and died, places where artistic events took place, etc. If you can’t find anything, don’t worry — make it up! Trust me, a lot of the ghost tour guides do! Invite some friends, get dressed up and go out marauding. You could even instruct someone to be what the ghost tour guides refer to as a “jumper oot-er” (in these parts anyway!) — someone who hides in a doorway or round a corner waiting to leap out and scare the pants off your unwitting tour group! If you don’t fancy wandering round in the cold looking at old houses all night, you could always try a tour of pubs with creepy names or literary associations.
Write a Halloween inspired poem.
Seriously, and make it a good one. It is my firm belief that there are not enough of these!
Host a morbid (poetry) pub quiz!
I had a friend who invented a quiz for a Halloween party once — all the questions were spookily themed, and the prizes were things like jelly worms and light-up devil horns, it was rather silly but pretty cool. It would be easy to put a literary twist on this particular activity — questions on famous literary deaths, great ghost stories, fictional murders. Plus there’s nothing like the chance of winning a prize to get people to turn down their invite to that Rocky Horror Picture Show showing and come to YOUR Halloween party instead!
Brew a poetic potion.
It ought to be made The Law that you must drink absinthe on Halloween. Favoured by writers down the ages — Oscar Wilde, Rimbaud and Baudelaire all loved the stuff — it’s the perfect way to poetify your All Hallows Eve. Come on, it’s green and cloudy, it’s long been believed to posess magical qualities, and to prepare it properly YOU SET IT ON FIRE. What’s not to love? Absinthe is famed for its hallucinogenic qualities (please note: you will not hallucinate from drinking a glass or two at your Halloween party, and if you drink more than that, you will probably pass out due to the high alcohol content before you get the chance to see any visions. If you want the hallucinations you’d better start drinking now, as apparently absinthe must be consumed in small regular doses over a period of 48+ hours before hallucinations happen. Even I’d get sick of the stuff by then…) — it has wormwood in it, which also sounds like something from a witch’s kitchen. Added bonus? It tastes like aniseed balls! It is the ultimate literary Halloween tipple.
(If you really can’t bear absinthe — or um, it’s illegal where you live — you could always try The Frankenstein, The Bride of Dracula or The Jekyll and Hyde.)
Tell me what you’ll be up to this Halloween night!