Mike Bednarsky, who was born in Bridgeport, but raised in Shelton, released his second poetry collection on July 6. The 25-year-old poet, who now resides in New York City, cites his hometown as the inspiration behind his new release, entitled “Puppets in a Neighborhood Church House.”
He says the name of the book refers to the Trap Falls one-room schoolhouse in Huntington.
“There was a time in the 1990s when what I remember to be Cabbage Patch Kids were sitting in the seats of the school. One day I peaked through the windows of the building, and there they were.”
Bednarsky wrote the title, which incorrectly refers to the local landmark as a “church house,” from the viewpoint of his six-year-old self, in an effort to “project a sense of unabashed childlike wonder.” His witnessing the dolls has had a lasting creative impact on him.
“Imagine if the person who propped up those puppets was trying to make some sort of statement about society and human development? That thought spurred me to put this collection together. Every poem in there has a connection to the oft-used term ‘feel human,’ and how subjective it could be. Most of us are aiming to feel in some capacity, even when we’re not aware of it—and there’s beauty in that,” said Bednarsky.
Bednarsky, who graduated from Shelton High School in 2009, comes from a family of professional musicians and performers. He started writing poetry around the age of seven, and gained the respect of his classmates by way of hip-hop and slam poetry during his time at Shelton High. But at the age of 20, he moved to Iowa City, Iowa, in pursuit of the community’s storied and eclectic poetry scene.
“I get my energy from people, so the entitlement found in some hip-hop lyrics, including my own, was eventually limiting,” he says. “I was lost in my bravado for a while, but I had to do something about it, because I wasn’t fulfilled by looking down on everybody else. The poetry workshops of academia, if carried out correctly, allow you to relish your work in an intimate setting where you directly learn what others take away from it. You’re sharing, more than competing, with the other minds in the room.”
Bednarsky graduated from the University of Iowa in 2013 with a B.A. in English, after placing in the institution’s rigorous creative writing track and selective undergraduate writing workshops. He moved to Manhattan after earning his degree, working as a writer for a website, and then as the managing editor of a tattoo magazine. Now he’s freelancing full-time, mostly as an editor and proofreader, and rationing his creative energy for music projects of various genres.
“I always come back to music. Given the family I come from, that shouldn’t surprise anyone. There are songs I’m writing and recording for other artists, and then there are pieces I’m releasing and performing under my own name. I keep my ears open. Every genre of music has something to offer artistically, and people respond to sounds in different ways. I want to run the gamut, because it’s all important to me,” said Bednarsky.
Bednarsky said his favorite thing about living in New York is being so close to Shelton.
“I could hop on the Metro-North Railroad anytime and visit my beloved hometown,” he says. “I’ll never turn my back on where it all began.”