RANGELEY – On Sunday August 9th, lovers of poetry and stories will gather at 6:00 pm on the lawn of the Ecopelagicon nature store, 7 Pond Street, Rangeley, to honor poet Hugh Ogden (1937-2006).
Peggy Yocom of Rangeley, Jeff Titon of Little Deer Isle, and Jo Radner of Lovell will present stories and poetry from The Folklore Muse: Poetry Fiction, and Other Reflections by Folklorists (Utah State University Press, 2008). Sponsored by Ecopelagicon and the Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum, the event is free to all. Light refreshments will be served.
Members of the Ogden family will begin the evening by reading poems written by their father. Community members are invited to read a poem of Hugh’s or one of their own that attends to what meant so much to Hugh: the beauty and mystery of the world, especially Rangeley, and peace among all living things. A sign-up sheet will be available at the start of the evening, since time will be limited.
During the second part of the evening, Peggy, Jeff, and Jo will present their stories and poetry. Folklorist at the Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum and professor of folklore at George Mason University, Peggy Yocom will read her poetry that is anchored in the western mountains of Maine. Jeff Titon, a professor of ethnomusicology at Brown University and longtime resident and contradance musician on Little Deer Isle, will read from his story “Percy.” Set on the Maine coast, it tells of the effects of well-meaning transplants from away on a Maine native, and illustrates the law of unintended consequences. Storyteller Jo Radner, who lives in Lovell, will tell “Eccentricity,” a story about the many hilarious oddities of her great-great half-uncle Horace Greeley Adams of Denmark, Maine, and Jo’s discovery of the dark secret that accounted for all of them. Retired from American University, Jo teaches storytelling and oral history workshops throughout Maine and New England.
Organizers of the event plan to continue these August evenings of poetry, and the Ogden family has established a fund for this purpose, to which all are invited to contribute. Next year, poets Henry Braun of Weld and Lee Sharkey of Farmington will read, in honor of Hugh Ogden. Rangeley, its natural beauty and its people, fill Hugh’s seven books of poetry, especially Two Roads and this Spring, Bringing a Fir Straight Down, and his latest: Turtle Island Tree Psalms. Hugh Ogden first came to Rangeley in 1975, and he built a camp on what his children now call “Poet’s Island” on Rangeley Lake. In his book Turtle Island, the speakers of most of the poems are particular Rangeley trees, either rooted by the side of Route 17, in local cemeteries, or on Poet’s Island. He also wrote poems for local causes, such as the Rangeley Lake Heritage Trust’s stewardship of South Bog. In Rangeley, Hugh told friends, he “could hear the voices that call [him] to poems.”
Hugh Ogden taught poetry at Trinity College from 1967 until his death. He also inspired budding poets in nursing homes, prisons, and shelters. “He did this because he believed poetry could save lives,” Pamela Nomura, coordinator for the Poetry Center at Trinity College, explained. “He believed everyone’s voice was important [and that] poetry belonged to everyone.”
“Year after year I reach straight/ up, my trunk and voice grounded/ in incremental rhythms evergreen,” Hugh Ogden wrote in “Fir on the Oquossoc Shore, Singing.”
In this spirit, friends of poetry and storytelling, of Hugh, and of Peggy, Jeff, and Jo will gather on August 9th. Please come. For more information, call Peggy at 864-3421 or Linda Dexter at the Ecopelagicon 864-2771, and see these websites:
Ecopelagicon store (http://ecopelagicon.com)
Hugh Ogden (http://hughogden.com)
Jo Radner (http://joradner.com)
Jeff Titon (http://research.brown.edu/research/profile.php?id=10318)
Peggy Yocom (http://mason.gmu.edu/~myocom)