I first met Dorie Renee Hogan while on a pay phone in the hallway of the gymnasium at Highland Park High School in Topeka, KS. As a student at HPHS, I was heavily involved in Air Force JROTC my junior year. Captain of the Color Guard Team, Captain of the Drill team, second in command of the entire flight, (I may have actually held the rank of Cadet Captain at the time) my focus was on heading to West Point.
Poetry was no where in sight in my life at that time. In fact, I couldn’t stand literature.
After finishing presenting the colors before a basketball game, I entered the hallway…passed a pay phone just outside the gym and a student asked me if I wanted to talk to a girl who was on the other end of the line. Being 17, this is something that I wouldn’t turn down. What transpired during that phone call and subsequent phone calls drastically and dramatically changed my life.
There was a sense of poetic randomness to Dorie. She was known for sending poems written on scraps of paper and glued to construction paper which were mailed out to friends. She usually sent work anonymously. My focus at the time was on left, right, left…shining shoes, crew cuts, left shoulder arms, making cadet LTC. So, her free spiritedness made a substantial impression on me. I only met Dorie once in person. A brief chat at a McDonald’s at the corner of 29th and California in Topeka. Other than that, a few phone calls and random notes that Dorie would send me via snail mail were the only means of communication that we utilized.
I wandered thru time for several years eventually coming to the conclusion that poetry was a sole means of expression that I wanted to explore and utilize. Time moved along….years went by. As I began to become involved in the poetry community, a nagging thought began to grow within me. I never had a chance to thank Dorie for the impact she had on my life.
Ten years ago I decided to look Dorie up online in an attempt to reach out and thank her. After being unable to find a profile for her on MySpace, I searched for her on Google which lead to my discovery of her obituary. On October 22nd, 1996 Dorie left her parents’ home in Tecumseh, KS and was heading to Lawrence on Hwy 40. It snowed heavily that day. At approximately 11:50 am on October 22, 1996 Dorie lost control of her 1992 Mercury Topaz one mile east of Big Springs. Kenneth Kilmer was driving a tractor-trailor in the opposite lane and unfortunately a head on collision occured. Dorie wore a seat belt but she died at the scene. Upon discovering the news, I obtained her obituary and every news clipping I could find. My life was altered forever. The biggest artistic influence in my life was gone. I eventually gathered the courage to contact Sheryl Hogan, Dorie’s mother and had a few conversations with her.
As my writing career began to take off in late 2015, I simply felt like that I had unfinished business to see to its final conclusion. Self promotion is a necessary evil for a writer however it seemed to be an original sin to see my career grow but the legacy of Dorie Hogan fading away. After consulting with Sheryl, a poetry prize was developed and launched on January 6th, 2016. (Dorie was born on 1/6 in 1974). The prize targeted first time local female poets between the ages of 17-22 who were seeking to publish their first book of poetry. The age range was selected as such because I met Dorie when she was 17 and she passed at 22 years of age. The intent of the prize was to give a young female author a shot…a chance that Dorie never had. A winner of the prize was selected. Anna Ciummo, a Topeka resident and freshman at Washburn University.
During the development and promotion of the poetry prize, Sheryl notified me that approximately 20 pages of Dorie’s unpublished work existed as well as several of her paintings. I had worked with Richard Robert Hansen, editor of the Poems-For-All project this year and after editing a small selection of Dorie’s work, I submitted a piece entitled “Tecumseh Whispers” to Richard as well as an image of a watercolor painting for possible publication. Richard accepted the work and “Tecumseh Whispers” became #1515 of the Poems-For-All project. This is the first time Dorie became published, 20 years after her death.
On September 15th, I will be hosting a reading at The Raven in Lawrence, KS. Dorie’s minibook will be given away for free. In addition, Anna Ciummo will be presenting her first book of poetry “Dreamflowers” published by Asinimali Publications. Anna will be joined by Linzi Garcia (the reading is also her first featured reading), Joan Koromante (who edited Anna’s work), and Victor Clevenger. Sheryl Hogan has expressed interested in attending. The reading will be the first poetry reading Sheryl has ever experienced.
Dorie never had a shot at exploring the events that come with being a published author. I never had an opportunity to thank her. In my humble opinion, authors have a moral obligation to help others in this business…be it advice or simple encouragement. The culmination of events during 2015-2016 were my attempt to do both. Help poets get a shot in this business and to make sure that Dorie is not forgotten.
On October 22 of this year I will return to the Tecumseh Cemetery, the final resting place for Dorie. Ive returned from time to time everytime Ive been published in print to pay my respects. This year I’ll return…no Facebook event page will be created…no crowds will gather. I will leave copies of my work that have been published…and I will leave copies of “Tecumseh Whispers” at her site. It’s a small cemetery…big open sky…and silence.
If we have crossed paths in this poetry realm as you read this…the sole source of our intersection in life was my limited but profound interaction with Dorie Hogan.
At some point during every reading Ive ever done, I’ll scan the crowd in an attempt to see if she is there.
At some point while listen to either “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure (Or the cover by Dinosaur Jr) or “Lounge Act” by Nirvana…or “Lithium” for that matter…Dorie is never far from my thoughts. This will never change.
I honestly dont know where I will go next or what direction I will head. I have other readings scheduled…other poems of mine to attempt to get published. I will move on in life but I can finally rest knowing that I did what I could to give someone an opportunity that Dorie never had…and that the effect Dorie had on her world would be honored and remembered.
And the world continues to breathe…
And the tears will eventually stop flowing…
And the earth will keep on spinning.