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Of Poems Shared and Inspiration

Richard Paige — Sometimes you wonder where inspiration comes from. Other times, it’s obvious.

Jordan Ogle ’19 is a writer. The English literature major with a philosophy minor loves poetry. “This is my dream to study poetry and to share that with anyone who is willing to listen,” he told me recently.

I asked how he got hooked on poetry. Turns out, it was his grandmother, Carrie Phillips.

She was a factory worker in Clinton, Indiana, for the majority of her life. High school educated, Carrie never went to college, but she has long written poetry and shares that with Jordan. He remembers those poems, stuffed in her Bible, and her reading them with him as far back as elementary school.

“She kept those in her Bible and she would read them to me,” he says. “It was a way for her to express

Jordan Ogle ’19.

herself and the frustration of living as a working-class woman and a single mom, but also a way for her to express the kind of beauty she saw in the world.”

Now all these years later, poetry has become the centerpiece of Jordan’s academic interests. They still share poetry today, and I’d bet such an exchange brings a smile to her face.

“Even though she didn’t go to college and study poetry in a scholarly sense, she understands, and what I have to say about poetry resonates with her,” he explains. “What I’m doing now makes her happy, probably because it’s what she wishes she had the opportunity to do.”

Recently, Ogle earned a Fulbright U.K. Partner fellowship and will study at the University of Exeter in England next year. Further, he has been accepted into a Ph.D. program at the University of Iowa and will begin studies when his master’s work at Exeter is completed.

Jordan was named a Julia Rosenberg Writing Scholar last fall, earned distinction on his comprehensive exams, and was an honoree at Awards Chapel multiple times, including the Walter L. Fertig Prize in English.

But it wasn’t always easy for Ogle. He’s battled mental health issues while here and showed remarkable resilience in becoming the first person in his family to graduate from college and the first to travel abroad.

Still, the next step to Exeter is a big one.

“She will miss me,” he starts, “but she is excited for me. All of the work I’ve put in at Wabash, to taking care of my mental health, to taking care of my family back home, has all been worth it in the end, and I think she feels that, too. I think about how lucky I am to even be here today.”