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May 5, 2023

In Bigelow’s debut poetry collections, Science & Mysticism and The Veil's Cipher, form informs function, as the books are published in tête-bêche format. We spoke with the author about his decision to publish this way and how he, as BookLife Reviews says, created “a union between the scientific and the divine... [illuminating] the universe and humanity’s relationship to it.”

Have you always wanted to write?

I’ve always written. Writing is something about which I’ve always felt strongly. A deep-rooted love of language and literature was an integral part of my childhood and upbringing and continues to be essential. I’m fascinated by how things work, and a large part of how we convey that information is through language. It’s able to both expand and constrain our understanding of things. So, understanding how language works seemed fundamental to understanding anything else properly. That’s why I love the dictionary; it’s the key to the library.

Why did you decide to publish the two collections together in tête-bêche format?

Primarily because it’s a collection of thoughts on the infinite, and tête-bêche is essentially the book equivalent of a Möbius strip. Additionally, it allowed for the juxtaposition of the two collections’ ideas. As Alan Watts said, “Things with explicit differences have an implicit unity,” which relates to the overall theme of the volume. The format also serves as a reminder of how different things can seem depending on how you look at them.

To what extent do you draw from real life for your poetry?

That’s a difficult question to answer. Does a real dream count? Science & Mysticism is based largely on actual scientific concepts. Some of the poems in The Veil’s Cipher are based on real events and locations and offer a fairly literal, albeit poetic, description, if you know the story. I tried to find the kernel of truth in all the poems and then pried them open or let them bloom. Sometimes a poem’s origin is mundane though true. The poems can be described as accurate but imprecise. They’re designed to shift in their viewpoint depending on the angle from which they are illuminated. Creating these collections involved inspiration and distinct, yet variable, meaning-making. However, what I think is most important is what a poem means to the reader. It’s my hope that the meanings of these poems are never codified, even if their inspirations are. By all means, don’t just read between the lines, examine the holography.

Were there any poems that you wanted to include but couldn’t?

Yes, there were some that I intended to include, but then several new ones emerged as I was working on the book that were better suited. Maybe the ones I left out will make sense in a different collection. However, there was limited room, as I wanted each collection to have 16 poems because it's a perfect cube, with eight at the center of the tête-bêche. I also had to find a cutoff point. As the saying goes, “art is never finished, merely abandoned.” That said, I don’t feel I abandoned the book; I just pushed it out of the nest.

Are you working on anything new?

Well, poetry keeps leaking out of my mind at a fairly consistent rate, so if you consider that the working part, then, yes. I do have a title that I’ve been revisiting like the gap of a missing tooth: Greetings from the Sunshine State. I imagine it containing poems based more directly on memories stories and some musings as well. Maybe even a prognostication or pontification thrown in for good measure—who knows? We’ll see whether enough poems show up to suit its purpose or whether some new cohesive collection emerges. Regardless, I’ll continue to write.