MZD standing and Poe sitting in front of a mirror, with HOL written backwards on MZD's neck so it's correct in the mirror, Poe holding her red P(*)E ball

W
December 2000
Page 206

"Rise & Shine"
Mark Danielewski | Writer Poe | Singer-Songwriter

Two years ago, Mark Danielewski, author of the best-selling horror novel House of Leaves, and his sister, singer-songwriter Poe, found a red plastic box. Like the house in Danielewski's book, it looked innocent on the outside but contained terrors. Inside were cassette tapes filled with random recordings of their father, who died in 1993, and they unleashed memories of dark events that color both artists' work.

Samples from the tapes form the core of Poe's chilling new CD, Haunted (Atlantic); its lyrics often build upon themes in Mark's novel. "My sister and I hear similar ancestral voices," Mark explains. "One of the gifts we can give each other is to refresh each other's memory."

The children of a filmmaker who fled the Holocaust, and a Philadelphia debutante 20 years his junior, Mark and Poe grew up all over the world--wherever their father happened to be shooting. But when he moved the family from New York City to Utah, following a severe reversal of fortune, it was too much for his wife. She left, and Poe, devastated, quit school at 16 to track her down.

The siblings learned to transmute anguish into art. At age 10, Mark finished a 365-page novel; at eight, Poe wrote her first song. "Survivors of the same war," as Mark has put it, they also learned to rely on each other. "When we first heard the tapes, we both started crying," Poe says. But "the only escape," she adds, "was to listen."

--M.G. Lord

PHOTO BY HARRY MIDDLETON; HAIR AND MAKEUP BY DORIT FOR VISAGES; PHOTOGRAPHED AT SIR STUDIO, HOLLYWOOD