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Text is a catalyst and integral to the concept behind Wordfall. Brendan Ogg was an aspiring writer with a love of poetry from bygone eras; John Keats and TS Eliot among them. It was heartbreaking when Brendan succumbed to brain cancer at the tender, yet insightful, age of 20. His death left a community of friends, family and colleagues devastated.

Just before he passed away Brendan learned that a book of his poems would be published. The poems in Summer Becomes Absurd reveal the energy of youth, the wisdom of one who has met and acknowledged mortality and the spirit of someone who can embrace and celebrate life.

Wordfall takes selected poems from that collection and weaves them together as a tribute to Brendan’s life and spirit. Friends, family, and even some who did not know Brendan, wrapped more than 80,000 paper clips with his words. A new community emerged as those who wrapped gathered. Over time we helped each other move from the chaos and confusion of grief to a degree of clarity acknowledging that pieces of those we lose stay with us in new and sometimes surprising ways. The wrapped paperclips transformed the written work into a living memorial — linkages of words, random at times, but with inherent messages.



1990 – 2010

Brendan Ogg grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland and graduated from Albert Einstein High School in 2007. He was majoring in English at the University of Michigan when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor during his sophomore year. Brendan drew upon his lifelong love of reading and writing to deal with his illness. A collection of his poems was accepted for publication just before Brendan passed away on February 24, 2010 at the age of 20. The poetry in Brendan’s book, Summer Becomes Absurd, includes works from before, during and after his diagnosis. It is available at Amazon or through Finishing Line Press.

} —5—

(“To Life”)

Feather rug, soft bed of matted grass, Why did I question this place of endless beauty— life—

to my friend, in weakness? Where was my heart before this time?

Now I feel it in my breast.

Put your hand there, fingers spreading from the palm, And feel the warm, insistent pulse.

{ L’CHAIM } — 7 —

I don’t know what the doctor means by “mostly” within the radiation field

I don’t know for how long I will need this cane

I don’t know what the scan will look like one month, four months, four years from now.

All I know is the air that I breathe in this instant— spring’s sweet whisper— into my lungs, my friend at my side, his broad hand between my shoulder-blades, the living God, the love of my friends and family, and the warm skin of her knee, onto which I lay my cheek, to sleep.

} —9—

I am sick of these half eaten fingernails. No.

I have my whole life to be afraid.

There! With that declaration, the anvil weight of dread falls loosely from the chain around my neck.


Keep me from fear, that cold paralysis, the squirming nausea.
I have my entire life, however long it is.
I have my own eternity in a
years, or in an instant.

I’ve played the game of love exactly wrong, given a catalog of compliments with my first breath, called at all the times when she was busy, forgotten to posture as aloof, dressed wrong, was ill mannered, etcetera.

I was prepared to hang my head and walk away— but she, bright, smiling, draped an arm over my leg as if I were more than the sum of all my actions through the


that brought me to this moment, where we wait, on a staircase, glancing every now and then upstairs.


“You know it’s funny,” my neurosurgeon says, walking beside me like a friend, “I was just thinking of you today, in surgery...”

My parents tell me later in tears of how they shared a separate dream after many long and frightening nights beside me in the ICU— that I might one day return to these people who had won our deepest admiration— indeed some kind of love, as myself, no longer my self’s strange shadow, aching and immobile, without reason or memory from one minute to the next, and this dream became the fruit of blessed time.

“And I turned to the nearest resident,” he says, laughing, “And I said, this looks just like Brendan Ogg’s tumor!” And my parents from behind are touched to see us laughing,talking, walking in communitas, together down the hall.

} —15—

This pale human weariness; the sun rises along the backs of mountainsides at the end of every moonless night

I have seen I have seen I have seen.

This shyness of my feet to walk has never been so astute, or so acute, as when I am with you.

...Careening cloudless goes the sky

Oh and I and I and I.

{ AUBADE } —17—


More than 300 people wrapped Brendan Ogg’s poetry

80,000 paperclips

6 poems 60 pounds of paper

Across the 50 states

Two continents

8 year-olds to 80 year olds

Cancer survivors, cancer caregivers Healthcare workers

The Homeless

Mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, friends, strangers, grandparents, teachers,

} —19—

For almost twenty years, Francie Hester and Lisa Hill have collaborated on community art projects and installations. Their first project together was for the Ginetta Sagan Fund of Amnesty International.


has exhibited her work both nationally and internationally. Her work is represented in numerous private and corporate collections including the World Bank, Freddie Mac, Capital One, KPMG, and the International Monetary Fund. She has received honorary grants from the District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and from the Arts Council of Montgomery County, Maryland. Hester’s commissioned works include a 1996 piece for the Ginetta Sagan Fund of Amnesty International and an 18-foot atrium piece for the Chicago Kent College of Law. In addition, she has created large-scale sculptural

aluminum paintings for Airbus, ASHA, Booz Allen Hamilton and National Endowment for the Arts Member Benefits. She received her M.F.A. in painting from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a B.F.A. in painting from the University of Michigan. Hester is represented by Susan Eley Fine Art in New York City.


a is a fine artist, graphic/interactive designer, and educator. She is the Assistant Dean and Associate Professor for the Communication Design Program at NOVA, the second largest community college in the country where she teaches both print, interactive design and conceptual development. Lisa also has

The work Brendan Ogg created is included in a book of poetry, Summer Becomes Absurd, and became the inspiration the community art work Wordfall among others.


Our son, Brendan, was a gifted writer. One of those little kids who not just loved to be read to but loved to write stories as well. A love of words and writing stayed with Brendan and became a gift to him when, at 19 years old, he was diagnosed with cancer.

Brendan was home on winter break during his Sophomore year at University of Michigan. He was complaining of headaches, and at times they got really bad. We thought stress, migraines, maybe he needed glasses. But an MRI on Christmas Eve told us otherwise.

Brendan had a brain tumor. It was big, aggressive and deep in the brain. The world just stopped. Those 14 months Brendan lived he —

and we — found ourselves getting up to speed on how this disease would affect the mind, body, and spirit.

From the beginning Brendan was clear that he was going to leave curing the cancer to the doctors and that his basic task was to deal with the spirit. Although Brendan was an old soul and artist at heart yet not everyone has to have an affinity for the arts to benefit from their healing effect.

In many ways Brendan was different after his diagnosis and surgeries. In other ways, the best of him shone through. In the last weeks of his life we learned that a book of Brendan’s poems, Summer Becomes Absurd, would be published by Finishing Line Press. Not all the

} —21— —20—


A Lisa Adams Zoe Ades

Elyse Adler Reggie Alston Kelly Amaya

Katherine Andrle

Bridget Anger

Lia Appelmon

Johan Aschan-Santana Gabriel Ayala

Anne Baker

Jamal Baker

Gabbie Ballesteros Yasmine Barry Francesco Bellafiore Isabella Benning Debbie Berkowitz

Fran Bernstein Rayah Blackwell Kerry Bowen Aidan Bradley Emily Bragg Beverly Bragg Chris Bragg Hilary Bragg Taylor Bragg Claire Brennan Alexandes Brighthaupt Aryana Briner Georgia Broitman Wendy Brown Yun Brown Danielle Browne Linda Burch Pat Burda

Jonni Burke C Victoria Cabellos Maya Calabrese

Sine Camara

Kiara Campbell Sarah Campbell

Linda Campos

Katy Ann Carr Dani Castillo Karin Chenoweth

Chloe Chieng

Sam Cohen

Tolly Colby

Frances Coles

Litzy Contreras

Kenneth Corpuz

Paul Costello Audrey Cronin

Parlett Cubo Betsua Cuevas

Abigail Cyprien

D Maggie Daly Leah Dandin

Raquel Delgadillo Davina Dennis

Laurynn Dennis Sophia Dennis Betsy Devlin-Foltz David Devlin-Foltz

Levi Dias Tracy Sarai Diaz

Yoni Ellie Donovan Elijah Destiny Dove Aretmus Eden Ylva-Lina Elifis ÷stlund

Cathy Ellis Katie Ellis Mary Ellsberg Jake Ephron Jennifer Eve Kristin Faust Alison Kaye Fernandez Danna Fiestas David Finkel Grant Finn Kelly Flores Glenn Foster Cindy Frank Abby Fullem Tom Fulton Ashley Funes Ellen Garshick Virginia Gebbia Barbara Geiger-Green Madelyn Giblin Venus Gilyaro Penny Gladhill Rachel Glaser Maya Glass Amy Gomes

Tricia Gooley Shonette Grant Mimi Guernica

Jonathon Guerra Katherine Guzman Lily Habenstreit

Sarah Haddad Maria Haskins

Elisabeth Hawthorne

Antoinette Heard

Abby Hester Francie Hester

Liza Hester

Lisa Hill Mike Hill Mikayla Hodge

Janet Hook

Evelyn Horan

Lizzie Horne Denise Howard Nate Huson

Samuel Intrater Jackson Isociol Peggy Jackson Bilisan Jassissa Edwin Johnson Lindsey Juarez Olivia Kaufmann Grace Keller Anne-Beatrix KellerSemadeni Annie Kelly Emily Kopilow Rachel Kopilow Reilly Leaver Quinette LeFlore Andrea Levere Allegra Levone Adam Lewis Lauren Lewis Semone Lewis Kaylah Lovitts

Gabby Machuca Sophie Maffie Elena Malaga

Emilina Manoz Milena Manzanarez

Spencer Martin Cecilila Martinez

Graciela Martinez

Ana-Maria Matamoros

Maxwell Maynard

Catherine McCafferty

Lauren McCaffrey Liam McCrickard

Megan McWright

Yarisa Medina Elisa Mendez

Patrick Mendez

Alexis Meneses

Lorenzo Meniato Ricardo Molina MaryBeth Mullen Mary Murphy Anika Nguyen Elise Nikolich Hannah Nolan Dylan OíConnell

Kevin O’Brien Anna Ogg Jackie Ogg

Aisha Olemba Claire Onley Christian Orellana Austin Patterson Joe Pelicano Juissa Perez Paula Pero

Lynne Perri Zandra Persson

Joan Phalen Jaime Phannavong Kendgy Pierre-Lenos Nancy Pinto Margaret Plank Allison Porter

Jon Post Julia Post

Peirce Prine

Daniela Quintero-Rodriguez

Joan Rackey Devon Rappaport

Kate Raulin Dylan Reichman

Dori Reinhalter

Emma Reinhalter

Grace Reinhalter

Troy Reinhalter Marina Relman

Monika Relman

Jared Richie

Jordan Richie

Eleanor Richmond

Abrianna Rivera

Neveen Rizkallah

Callista Rosdina

Abbie Rosner

Anders Rosengren

Blair Rush

Jonah Ruskin

Amy Sands

Ellen Sands

Stephani Santo

Anna Saylor

Bobby Shaffer

Sheida Shaghoie

Michela Shako

Tizane Sharpe

Sabrina Sigueira

Cheryl Silver

Ben Simmons Hunter Simmons

Peter Smeallie Betsy Smith

Philippos Sourvinos Laurie Sparks Nick Spencer Beth Sperber-Richie Catherine Stahl Susan Stamm Allison Stearns Aida Stevenson Haley Stoops Erika Styslinger Adam Szwed

Jessica Takala

Denn Daniel Tandoc

Liz Taylor

Angela Terry Briana Thomas Beth Thompson

Hanna Thorstensen

Tatyana Tran

Rachelle Urtecho

Charles Varga

Marie Vastola

Suzanna Vaughan

John-Francis Villines

Marie Waldron

Leia Walker Avery Walton Beth Wehrle

Ellen Weiss

Kelly White

Madison Willette

Jessie Williams

Whitney Wilson Brendan Witt

Geneva Young Louis Lynn Zepp Brian Zhu Abby’s List Beth’s huband beth’s son Francie Housekeeper GirlScouts Liza’s list Nancy’s family Other giblins? UMD students

Celia Richardson Samantha Wright

Sloan Kettering Memorial

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