Phyllis Hoge

Hoge—Phyllis Hoge, 91, on August 26, 2018, in Albuquerque, N.M. Phyllis was born on November 15, 1926, in Elizabeth, N.J., one of three daughters of Dorothy Morgan Anderson and Philip Barlow Hoge. She grew up in New Jersey and Rhode Island, where her mother read poetry aloud to her, gave her the right books when she was very young, and took her to poetry readings. In spite of a bachelor’s from Connecticut College, a master’s from Duke University, and a doctorate from University of Wisconsin, she declared that she was not a scholar: her degrees were a union card for a job in which she could write and talk about poems: teaching at a university. While working on her doctorate, she brought her four children into the world with her husband, John Rose. She and the children moved to Hawaii in 1963, where she taught at University of Hawaii. She was instrumental in starting the Only Established Permanent Floating Poetry Game in Honolulu and the nation’s first poets-in-the-schools program, Haku Mele O Hawaii. Her first book of poetry, Artichoke and Other Poems, was published in 1966, followed by seven more poetry volumes and a memoir about her time in a New Mexico ghost town.

A lifelong church-goer, she said that worship stood at the center of her life, first in the Episcopal Church and then as a Quaker, after a Wisconsin cousin introduced her to the Religious Society of Friends. She joined Honolulu Meeting in 1969, her changing spiritual life making her poetry inspired less from outer events and more from truth revealed in silence and inward listening for Light.

Retiring to New Mexico in 1984, she enjoyed the expansion of sky and the opportunity for connection that the islands had not always been able to offer. Her writing and travels continued, including a year in China that inspired Letters from Jian Hui and Other Poems (2001). In Albuquerque, she moved into a beloved little house that she personally painted yellow and that inspired her last book, Hello House (2012). After transferring her membership to Albuquerque Meeting in 1984, she served on committees and wrote for Albuquerque, New Mexico Regional, and Intermountain Yearly Meetings. Her vocal ministry wove strands of poetry, literary allusion, and reflection. She affectionately called First Days for business meeting a Holy Day of Obligation, quoting another Friend: “If I don’t [go], they usually end up doing some darn thing or other.” The meeting’s belonging and connection were integral to both her sense of well-being and her writing.

She wanted poets to remember her as a Quaker and Quakers to remember her as a poet. She called poetry her common prayer, saying that both her own poetry and others’ helped her to understand her life and to live more peaceably with what she had. Her keen observation and sense of humor sparkled in her vocal ministry and in her conversation. With a fierce commitment to precise language and a major appetite for hard work, she was quick to laugh; to recite Yeats, Whitman, and others; to sing the old tunes; to listen; and to love. She loved art and things of beauty and balanced independence with interest in others and connections to family and friends. In her last decade, she reunited with a friend from her youth, Robert Sommerfeld, sharing loving companionship until his death about a year before her own. Phyllis’s son Mead Rose passed away earlier in 2018. She is survived by three children, Kate Roseguo, John Rose, and Willie Rose.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Maximum of 400 words or 2000 characters.

Comments on may be used in the Forum of the print magazine and may be edited for length and clarity.