DRINK (BlazeVOX) explores the mercurial myths of mermaids, nautical lore of drift bottles, and unmapped beach parties at the Pacific, to questions theDRINK (BlazeVOX) explores the mercurial myths of mermaids, nautical lore of drift bottles, and unmapped beach parties at the Pacific, to questions the changeable stories we tell of water, those connected to plane disappearances, downed ships, lost girls, and forgotten lives. Drink seeks to understand what terrorizes us, be they forgotten messages, murdered sisters, or women living in water.
Witty, sad, tragic, and magical, the poems in Drink both rewrite myths of the sea and present a harrowing vision of a childhood fraught with abuse, alcoholism, and poverty. The result is a collection of poems that shimmer with revelatory beauty, longing, and honesty. Clearly Wiseman is one of the more unique and inspired new voices on the American poetry scene today. – Nin Andrews
In her beautiful new collection, Drink, Laura Madeline Wiseman guides us to the bottom of the ocean, where mermaids collect stones among crashed planes and sunken ships. As the book progresses, bottles and bodies become vessels for the persistent memory of trauma. In poems that converse with everything from Homer’s Odyssey to Peter Pan, Wiseman stunningly depicts the instability of home, navigating issues of poverty, gendered violence, and “manmade” disasters in strikingly intimate lines that throw us headfirst into the high school gym pool with her mermaids. “Note how the roads refuse the grid,” Wiseman writes. “Note how the ocean is taking back the coast. Note how every path ends in drink.” Wiseman’s raw and elegant Drink plunges the depths of the ocean, of love, and of memory to search the wreckage of all that is lost, and the life that brims beneath it. “The problem with memory is fact,” Wiseman reminds us, but through these poems, we can search “for some other place, some magic code to save us.” – Alyse Knorr
Marcel had his madeleine; Laura Madeline Wiseman, her mermaids. A child’s toy, a tattoo on an ankle, and the past floods back like messages in bottles: a devastating childhood told with honesty and clear-eyed bravery. I am reminded how poetry can save us, how, in the hands of such a talented writer as Wiseman, it can raise us from the depths to a cove of still water where, perhaps, who knows, the mermaids are. – Alice Friman
Wiseman deftly handles both free verse and prose poems in this engaging collection. She weaves together a tight fabric of related motifs—drinking and a bottle collection, writing and tattoos, mermaids and human sisters, a negligent mother and unreliable men. Her gaze goes wide as she covers history and myth. Then she zooms in on family and a personal love story. Contraries abound in this richly complex and memorable tapestry of poems. – Diane Lockward
There are mermaids in our midst. They couple with sailors. They regard great cities from their floating vantage points in the water. They are “concerned about the female body.” And through their eyes, we rediscover our own losses, how we’ve been damaged, how anxious we are for myths and other narratives, so that our lives won’t seem “written in water, already gone.” Part fairytale, part intimate meditation on a California girlhood, Laura Madeline Wiseman’s Drink transforms messages into massages; language is made physical, a letter stoppered in a bottle, insisting—despite every storm and shipwreck—in the possibility of speech. – Jehanne Dubrow ...more
Who is female death and how do we find her and her monstrous friends? This new collection explores figures of lady-death such as Inanna, Persephone, aWho is female death and how do we find her and her monstrous friends? This new collection explores figures of lady-death such as Inanna, Persephone, and others where death is mother, sister, and girl. New from Aldrich Press, Wake traces such myths as the hero’s journey, a descent into and out of the underworld, and a return to the land of the living where monsters still chase us even after we return. It is a dark story, piercing and magical.
With nods to fairy tales, mythology, and Emily Dickinson, Wake imagines a female Death, both tender and brutal, at one moment the hand “pushing hair behind my ear” and at the next the sexual aggressor who “tries to maneuver my lips to steal my breath, / to give me the tongue she doesn’t have.” In Wake, the underworld is “a symbol of what can’t be / faced direct without a dying, but we face it dying.” Emerging from that place, the poems’ narrators meet monsters both fantastic and familial and discover not only lurking threats but also the possibility of laughter after death.
- Jennifer Perrine
In Laura Madeline Wiseman’s latest collection, Death and her monstrous cohorts take us on a mythic journey into the underworld and back. This is book of the dead who are inside us, who “live in our muscles and bones.” It’s wild ride, this undertaking—a trip that leaves us reeling in a wake of dreams.
- Grace Bauer
Who would have thought an exploration of death narratives could be so engrossing? From the "ladies of death" who ride in carts, "bow held at the ready," to those who are "part of our muscles and bones," to the lady who says she'll be a "long lost twin-sister," death in these poems is no stereotyped "cloak and scythe," no "lone man." Laura Madeline Wiseman tackles this most difficult of subjects with intelligence, wit, and imaginative verve as she takes us on a bracing journey through ancient and contemporary myths surrounding the subject of death.
The Hunger of the Cheeky Sisters lets girlhood hunger rove cupboards, blacktops, and playgrounds to find the sweetness we can cup with our hands—butte
The Hunger of the Cheeky Sisters lets girlhood hunger rove cupboards, blacktops, and playgrounds to find the sweetness we can cup with our hands—butterflies, marathon medals, the body of a telephoto lens. Illustrated by artist Lauren Rinaldi, these ten collected tales by Laura Madeline Wiseman show the strength of girls coming into their own.
In the second person of these relentlessly gritty stories, you are not a spectator, but a participant, as the far-from-ordinary lives of The Hunger of the Cheeky Sisters sweep you up and unspool in their own surprising, dream-like logic. In stories that catalog and collage images so precise and visceral, the “hard, clacking bodies” of roaches that the cat “endlessly bats like ice hockey pucks across the smooth concrete floor” seem just as familiar as “the green, cracked naugahyde seat” of the school bus from which “you pull off puzzle like pieces of the material,” as universally recognizable as “the hard nobs of Bazooka bubblegum dusted with white powder.” Whoever you are, where ever you come from, take one glance into Laura Madeline Wiseman’s dark and shining world. You won’t be able to look away. —Megan Gannon
In The Hunger of the Cheeky Sisters: Ten Tales, Laura Madeline Wiseman introduces us to characters that possess tenderness, believable vulnerability, and a touch of grittiness. As we journey through a world of flea-ridden apartments, weekend fishing trips, locker rooms, and a loveless marriage, the reader witnesses young women struggling with self-acceptance, approval from peers, and the desire for security. The intimate details bristle with energy as Wiseman demonstrates repeatedly that she won’t shy away from the challenges and expectations society has placed on the shoulders of females. With her exceptional prose, Wiseman encourages the reader to embrace her body, her sisterhood, and her background—whatever it may be. At the end of one story, Wiseman writes, “You give up being his wife because you’re now your own.” A lovely line that resonates with truth as does the entire collection. —Cat Dixon
Laura Madeline Wiseman is one of the most exquisite writers I know. Her work is delicious with revelation and sensuality. Now, Wiseman’s Ten Tales has made me remember and feel that final bit of space between woman and girl. —Asha Veal Brisebois
This book is filled with the shame of girlhood and the grit of poverty in America. It is dripping with delight in femininity. Wiseman invites the reader into scenes from a woman’s life—of poverty, puberty, familial history, and love—relating the truth with honesty so discomforting it’s refreshing. —Blake Lee Pate
The Hunger of the Cheeky Sisters: Ten Tales gathers feminist working class stories in a witty and entertaining collection. Laura Madeline Wiseman delivers the personal discovery writ large on every girl’s body in honest, sometimes painful and sometimes humorous detail. From cockroach carcasses as cat toys, to urban childhood hunger, and through awkward love affairs, Wiseman’s visceral poetic imagery animates these girls and women and forces us to identify with them. It is hard not to compare The Hunger of the Cheeky Sisters to Lorrie Moore’s Self-Help, but Wiseman moves her succulent second-person stories into the twenty-first century with her candid style and lyrical voice. —DeMisty D. Bellinger
Laura Madeline Wiseman’s newest collection of short stories, The Hunger of the Cheeky Sisters, Ten Tales, uses second person to create a sense of unease. The reader is thrust into the center of the story, where imagery of poverty, resplendent with cockroaches, lice, and the perils of being female are shoved into your psyche. Her stories of young girls and women who deal in their own way with body image, femininity and hunger is raw, gritty, powerful, and real. Wiseman’s skilled rendering makes you appreciate how such a telling can be incredibly effective in conveying a work with an important message. This is a collection that will stay with you for a long time. —Lisa Kovanda
Reading Wiseman’s prose is like watching the world in slow motion, beneath a magnifying glass. It is full of startling images, meticulously rendered, of girlhood and poverty, the beauty, pain, and strength of a female body. —Kelly Grey Carlisle ...more
I ordered Kathleen Glassburn's A New Plateau, the first book in her trilogy to published by Red Dashboard because I was curious about the Dime Novel sI ordered Kathleen Glassburn's A New Plateau, the first book in her trilogy to published by Red Dashboard because I was curious about the Dime Novel series the press had started--a series that had already published M.V. Montgomery, J.W. Edwards, Bill Plank, Anita Haas, Tyson West, and others. The press describes them as such, "The dime novel is making a comeback! Originating in the late 19th-century and seeing its heyday in the 1940s and 1950s, particularly in genres such as the Western, the format became an important influence on the comic book, the radio drama, pulp fiction, and the film and television treatment. Today’s “flash novel” is really a new take on an old idea: stories just shy of novelette length, with numbered chapters rather than asterisks, and which, like the movies, compress a narrative otherwise “novelistic” in scope into a short form suitable for a single reading or download." Glassburn's book is a thoughtful, fast read of horses, smart and reflective women, and the complications of love and loss. I'm not sure what's next for Janice McKenna in the next two installments, but I look forward to reading them....more
Threnody explores the figure of lady-death, an icon come to life in these poems about the death cart, the death kiss, and a narrative dance with deathThrenody explores the figure of lady-death, an icon come to life in these poems about the death cart, the death kiss, and a narrative dance with death. This is a collection of linked micro fictions & vignettes. They read like prose poems, too, which is part of the beauty in them—these small works live in a liminal space, somehow between poetry and prose, but also an almost-dream state between life and death. Sometimes versus too.
The chapbook measures about 5.25 x 5 inches. It features a painting by Nicci as cover art ("Lady Death & Her Arrows," guache+paper, 9 x 5 inches). The cover is produced via inkjet on Epson matte photo paper. Each book is handbound & trimmed.
An excerpt from Threnody titled "Kissing Death:"
The lady of death gives me the kiss of death. I don’t know why. I was just standing in jeans and a ribbed tee, my belt hard and black, the metal clasp opening, warm in my hands. She appeared in my room, looked up at me from those dark sockets—her body all rib bone, clavicle, pelvis flair, hands and fingers as delicate as cages of dead birds. I didn’t want the kiss of death. We both stared at it for a while, crawling and scooting on the cement floor. I grabbed an empty coffee cup and trapped it, but when I knelt to slide a piece of paper beneath the edge, it was gone. I looked up at death, but she shrugged and reached into the space where her heart had been for another.
About the author:
Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of more than a dozen books and chapbooks and the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Her recent books are American Galactic (Martian Lit Books, 2014), Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience (Lavender Ink, 2014), Queen of the Platform (Anaphora Literary Press, 2013), Sprung (San Francisco Bay Press, 2012), and the collaborative book Intimates and Fools (Les Femmes Folles Books, 2014) with artist Sally Deskins. She holds a doctorate from the University of Nebraska and has received an Academy of American Poets Award, a Mari Sandoz/Prairie Schooner Award, and the Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Mid-American Review, and Feminist Studies. www.lauramadelinewiseman.com
About the Press: Porkbelly Press creates chapbooks in handbound, small editions. Launched in 2014, PP seeks works with a strong sense of voice, place, and just a touch of fabulism, folklore, or magic. We make our home on the banks of the Ohio River, in a little town called Cincinnati, where pigs fly. // porkbellypress.wordpress.com
Laura Madeline Wiseman’s Threnody is one kickass, wailing dirge that has death driving shotgun, “more hold you than break you apart,” luminous, pulsating language that defies fear and denial. —Meg Tuite
These poems are powerful, possessing great lyrical intensity and a profound sense of the mystery inherent in this mythic feminine journey into the underworld. Here the poet is an archeologist of the subterranean mind, lifting bits and pieces of knowledge like shards of pottery back up to the light. —Devreaux Baker
Mythic rituals have hints of danger and sex and regret, and Wiseman’s incantatory language mixes dream and nightmare, and Eros and Thanatos, in little portraits that soothe as they trouble. I admired each piece’s swift iconography. —Timothy Schaffert ...more