Word went out Thursday that he was moving to palliative. By now you’ve probably heard of the quick decline of Robert Hogg and our loss of him on Sunday.
I never did the math that he was 80. He was busy in the 60s with that zeitgeist of poetic excitement. He had a young energy. Even cancer’s “trauma age” didn’t impinge as much as on some people.
Death has offended and hurt many again. Its timing is never good. In the last few years, Bob was redoubling his efforts to get more of his work out before people while he could. Love while you can, write while you can and support while you can seemed to be his driver.
He was like electricity, always there at the ready when you reach for him. He had a calm gentle humour, plain spoken and as if amused by life.
It’s funny seeing the tributes coming out from so many and from so far and yet not surprising at the same time. He had the rare gift while talking to you of making you the only person in the room.
The sun is mine
And the trees are mine
The light breeze is mine
And the birds that inhabit the air
Their voices upon the wind
are in my ear
Connexions by Robert Hogg, (1966)
Robert was a professor of English Literature and Poetics at Carleton University for 38 years, where he nurtured a new generation of Canadian poets and writers. After his retirement in 2005 he devoted his attentions fully to writing and milling. He published five books of poetry and six chapbooks. He also edited a comprehensive anthology of Canadian Poetic theory. His work has appeared in over 70 publications throughout the world.
He also founded and operated Mountain Path Organics, an organic farm, stone ground flour mill and natural food distribution company in Eastern Ontario.
Long time ago, knowing he was an organic farmer, and took grain to mills, somehow I believed he was the Bob of Bob’s Red Mill. Course eventually I realized South Mountain wasn’t in Oregon.
Probably close to a decade ago I did a reading at a library. The organizer and the librarian came, and some curious person from within shelves popped out. And eventually 3 others, one being Bob.
It was snowy outside but the warmth of the room is not how many attend. A great reading has a sense of community and attention. It had that.
Afterwards I put out all I had published on a table and Bob carefully looked at each item, sampling, weighing, as I stood, on tenterhooks, would I actually sell something? He looked at me and said, “I’d like to take…” [dramatic pause} “one of each.” What an encourager!
I was glad he got to see the tribute chapbook to him that rob organizeed.
If you want the best and most comprehensive tribute, Cameron Anstee has done a lovely tribute of Hogg’s writing and even embedded a recording of him.