2018-07-14 / People

Bogan To Read Poems Inspired by Island July 16

By Marley Tucker


Dr. James J. Bogan, Jr. wrote his new book, “Seven Wonders of Mackinac and Other Amazements,” in one afternoon while walking in the forest on Mackinac Island. A summer resident, he is familiar with many of its natural curiosities off the beaten path. His poetry aims to highlight many of those features and other things unique to bicycle riding and equines on the Island. Dr. James J. Bogan, Jr. wrote his new book, “Seven Wonders of Mackinac and Other Amazements,” in one afternoon while walking in the forest on Mackinac Island. A summer resident, he is familiar with many of its natural curiosities off the beaten path. His poetry aims to highlight many of those features and other things unique to bicycle riding and equines on the Island. A more than five-decade journey of discovery on Mackinac Island forms the substance of the newest book, “Seven Wonders of Mackinac and Other Amazements,” by James J. Bogan, Jr.

A professor of writing, literature, film, and art history at the Missouri University of Science & Technology who taught at Rolla, Missouri, for 43 years, he first came to Mackinac Island in 1962 as a soda jerk at Jim Dennany’s Icehouse.

He has been a lifeguard at Grand Hotel, a caddie for Dickie Bazinaw, and a summer resident here since 1972. Members of the Bogan family have resided on the Island for generations.

Dr. Bogan, who retired from teaching in 2012, also is the author of “Ozark Meandering,” “Sparks of Fire,” and “Bound to BelĂ©m.” His film credits include “Brazilogy,” “Tom Benton’s Missouri,” “Naked Bronze,” and “Man vs. Tree.”

The encompassing experiences of creating his other works helped him draw inspiration for his newest book, he said. His new poems celebrate the fragile and unique natural features found all over the Island.

“Every poem brings all experience to the forefront, and the best poems carry the voltage of one’s whole life experience into that moment,” he said. “That’s easier said than done. I wrote these seven poems and then just kept going to include 25 pieces. I wrote them all in one afternoon.

“This has happened to me a few times in my life, when a whole Niagara of words fall out of my head,” said Dr. Bogan. “It was a blessed afternoon in terms of the muse not taking ‘no’ for an answer. I just wrote down my thoughts as fast as I could.”

The terrifying part is getting something out there that was nestled in your head, now on paper outside of yourself, he said.

After completing a first draft, he goes through a heavy editing process. He knows he is done editing when he stops changing and reworking what he wrote. The process, he said, is highly personal and timeconsuming. He didn’t delve heavily into his own poetry until he was 27 years old.

“I deal with free verse, but I do not focus on rhyme. I can do rhythm and I can do alliteration, which is the natural musicality of the English language,” he said.

Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan are favored poets of rhyme, Dr. Bogan said, while Walt Whitman revolutionized free-verse poetry.

Eagle Point Cave, Arch Rock, Friendship’s Altar, and Maniboajo’s Molar are among locations he describes. Acknowledging history before European colonization of the Island, he comments on the legends of indigenous peoples in the beginning of his book: the story of Maniboajo, the younger brother of Gitche Manitou. According to Anishinaabe Ojibwa tradition, Mackinac Island is the home of the Great Spirit.

“The Island in the 19th century was heavily Irish, and I’ve often thought that it was more Irish than Ireland at times, and Victorian on top of it,” joked Dr. Bogan. “There’s a preservation of culture and a generational conservatism, in part, from immigrants who came here. It’s amazing to me that the Island is as well preserved as it is.”

He will read poetry from his newest book and discuss his work at Little Stone Church Monday, July 16, at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Return to top

Click here for digital edition
2018-07-14 digital edition