Bigelow talks about the body of his work

By Page H. Gifford

Alden Bigelow’s new book, Lines of Convergence Prose and Poetry, focuses on the body of his work over recent years. Anyone who isn’t familiar with his work should check out his new book which gives an overview of his prose and poetry. It covers everything from growing up in the 1950s to his struggles with depression as well as his interest in animal advocacy.

He explains why he chose the title of this book.

“Line of Convergence covers a line of older excerpted stories twice-told throughout some 20 years. These are combined with previously unpublished stories written over the last few years,” he said. “I have then blended all of these short stories with previously unpublished poetry written over the last 50 years. They all share common themes. I wanted to draw together those lines of convergence, hence the name.”

Growing up with Jemima (his beloved cocker spaniel) features warmhearted stories about his boyhood, a time of innocence in the post-World War II era. Waxing nostalgic and reveling in cherished memories, he writes of long, warm summers of fun, freedom, and childish abandonment. He paints an idyllic picture of farm life, the simplicity of childhood interactions, and always of a memorable baseball game. 

Bigelow discusses the silent racist treatment that lurked beneath the condition of that time in Killing Time In A Small Southern Town and his post-coming-of-age book Norton’s Lament. In Fireside Chat, his short historical fiction based on true events, he highlights a conversation between Edward Coles and Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe regarding slavery and emancipation. He strips away the historical embellishments, revealing unknown truths. Their viewpoints on the institution of slavery and the resulting economy were tackled in ideological conversation. Their conclusions were that emancipation was a dilemma to be left to future generations. 

The book merges many aspects of his life’s journey including his time spent in Nantucket discovering love and deep friendships. And always there is a furry companion who becomes his most loyal ally. Whereas human relationships are often conditional, relationships with our animals are unconditional. His life-changing experiences prompted him to write: “walking into the light is hard when there are so many shadow boxers out there.” A profound statement that anyone can relate to who has left behind the innocence and naivete of childhood to be greeted by life’s challenges.

“All writing, I believe, is autobiographical on one level or another. I am always drawn to themes of self-discovery, and courage in the face of fear. There is always the traditional focus on love and loss. But I never forget one of life’s greatest tools, a sense of humor which can help get you through almost anything.”

His short stories are imaginative with characters whose interactions and motivations in the real world are something the reader can empathize with. One may wonder where reality seeps into fantasy since Bigelow integrates his experiences with those of his characters.

“The common themes of passion and plot and entertainment are the sugar that makes the medicine go down. I try not to forget that,” he said.

His poetry speaks easily from his heart and soul. Like his stories, they are a reflection of his many moods and experiences including his relationship with his beloved wife, Marjorie, in Fandango Blue.

He says he will focus on shorter works, short stories, and poetry for future projects.

“I like the wordplay and tightness of poetry always framed in rhythm and rhyme, and metaphor and allusion and plot design,” he said. “Short stories and poetry are quite similar in many ways but you don’t have the luxury of a 300-page novel. Every word counts and the choice of words and rhythm and rhyme count even more.”

To hear more about Alden Bigelow and his latest work, he will be speaking to Friends of the Library on Jan. 4, at 10 a.m.

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