Letters to Sophie's Mom

Hudson writer releases first book of poems

Anna Field, Scott Morfitt, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Wisconsin writer Rob Bignell’s debut book of poetry uses a plot arch to tie the poems together.
Wisconsin writer Rob Bignell’s debut book of poetry uses a plot arch to tie the poems together.

Writing poetry is intrinsically an exercise in introspection.   The greatest poets give us their point-of-view perspective on what is meaningful be it pastoral, romantic or even a larger social context.

In his new work Love Letters to Sophie’s Mom, Hudson author Rob Bignell does just that as he traces a plot arch from the spark of attraction to its tragic ending.

This collection of 34 poems is the first published work of poetry for Bignell but it is nowhere near his first writing rodeo; Bignell has 20 years of experience in journalism and editing other people’s published works.

“Yes, I did once want to be something other than be a writer. I planned to be an astronaut, but then in fifth grade I had to start wearing glasses ...”

Though Bignell says his ultimate spark for writing blossomed in childhood, though it was not his first love.   “Yes, I did once want to be something other than be a writer. I planned to be an astronaut, but then in fifth grade I had to start wearing glasses. At the time, you couldn’t be a jet fighter pilot if you wore glasses, and the only way to become an astronaut was to fly jets. So I decided I would write about being an astronaut.”

Bignell says that the mechanics of his writing have been shaped through deconstructing others’ words as an editor, but that is not necessarily his inspiration, “As for my creativity, I probably gain more inspiration from other forms of art – paintings or music, for example – because they spur my mind to abstractly visualize or ‘hear’ a concept, and then I say to myself, ‘How can I express this in words and sentences and paragraphs or stanzas?’”

For Bignell, the real joy of poetry is public readings where he gets to share his poems with an audience who enjoy his poems but also relish Bignell’s anecdotes about how he thought up specific poems and landscapes.  

Though his favorite part of public readings is feedback from his audience in many forms, “I get to see on people’s faces what they like about my writing. Their questions also often surprise me because they tell me in my works what is of interest to them or their interpretations of a poem’s meaning.”

We asked Bignell to get selective and choose a favorite of poems –  not all out, but a favorite selection to read in public.

 “...your question is a lot like asking “What’s your favorite kiss?” Well, they were all pretty good, but depending on your date, it’s almost a little different approach than what you used with your last steady provides the spark. One likes a long kiss, another gets dizzy when you pull at her lip, another goes crazy when you lean her back like you’re doing the tango. No one approach – or poem – works every time.”

Rob Bignell will be reading selections of poetry at The Local Store, 205 N. Dewey, on Nov. 15 at 6:30pm. Letters From Sophie’s Mom is available at The Local Store and online.

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