One, whose clear body was so pure and thin,
Because it need disguise no thought within;
’Twas but a through-light scarf, her mind to enrol,
Or exhalation breath’d out from her Soule.
John Donne, A Funeral Elegy
Sophia Nugent-Siegal, who died from a rare autoimmune disorder in 2014 aged 22, was a gifted young poet, writer of science fiction, and historian.
Winner of multiple Australian national poetry awards for young writers, Sophia began writing poetry early, at the age of 7. Her first themed collection (based on Classical mythology) was written when she was 13-14, and a book of her poetry, Oracle, was published at 16. By the time of her death, she had written 3 poetry collections. The last, Rough Sleepers, was written over the final year of her life, some literally in Intensive Care.
A postgraduate student in ancient history (undertaking, unusually, two Masters theses— one on Thucydides, the other on St. Athanasius), and a lover of sci fi and speculative fiction (herself writing 3 sci fi novels), Sophia was committed to the transmission of our shared cultural lexicon, which she believed connects us at a profound level to the core human story. She felt that writers and readers bear a responsibility to both past and future. At a poetry reading given when she was 17, Sophia commented that: “Today we need to keep adding not subtracting meaning, remembering not forgetting, to connect ourselves to the chain that ultimately joins all cultures.”
Tough-minded, fiercely intelligent, witty, often wry, referencing the cultural lexicon but always sharply contemporary, her work speaks with a distinctive, unconventional and compelling voice. Time and mortality dominated her work. Power and beauty were her answer.