Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 3 is now online. Enjoy new poems by M. Ross Henry, Carmen Germain, Catherine Moore, Erin Rodoni, Sarina Bosco, Diana Smith Bolton, SarahJordan Stout, Christina Seymour, Jan Bottiglieri, Sara Henning, Allison Joseph, Corrie Williams Kentner, Anthony Botti, Kathleen Brewin Lewis, Doug Ramspeck, Elise Gregory, Julia Bouwsma, Knud Sorensen (Translated by Michael Goldman), Jess Williard, Adam Penna, Jennifer Stewart Miller, Katie Manning, Eloisa Amezcua, Givhan Jennifer, Ann E. Michael, Simon Perchik, Sara Biggs Chaney, Jacqueline Balderrama, Alessandra Bava, Tina Richardson, and Alina Stefanescu. Reviews of Spencer Reece, Laura Madeline Wiseman, and Anne Marie Macari by David Seter, Corrinne Adams, and Cindy Snow.
Reviewed by Corinne Elysse Adams
Laura Madeline Wiseman’s Wake is no journey for the feeble-hearted. It is a powerful, often unforgiving ride, packed with the afterglow of images: death the imperious woman, the abusive mother, a cold, hard lover.
Wiseman’s collection begins with a series of sharp, meticulously crafted block poems. Her descriptions are so vivid they are almost physical, especially as death becomes lover and mother and leaves dark bruises wherever she reaches. There are moments, not infrequent, that are so visceral as to provoke a physical reaction from the reader.
The poems are continuously streaked with dark colors–bruise colors, blood, shadow. One line that I recall this in most vividly is from the poem “Or to release death”, where the narrator wonders:
Am I going to be covered in
bruises tomorrow? we ask, wondering if to let her out
there must be damage, the blue-black of ache, the start
of a low ringing in the ears (11).
The thing I think that really works in these poems is the constant small, seemingly tender or human motions of death amidst her propensity for brutal violence: “Think of the simple lessons, death says,/ pushing hair behind my ear.” These are the moments that really give shivers; they work on the reader, hooking us slowly into the tale. Then they deliver their blow:
…Death sings “Crazy
Mary” and slides the cool white of her hand up the
inside of my thigh. I have to drive, so I can’t stop her.
I’m wearing running shorts, so can’t stop her. I haven’t
been touched by anyone and so can’t stop her (18).
I was particularly drawn to the threads of fairy tales in the later poems, how they alluded to those familiar stories with a sharp-edged tongue─the Little Mermaid, Snow White, hints of mythology. I found myself reminded of Angela Carter and her own dark treatment of fairy stories. Prepare to be knocked over by lines like:
…Ariel lied. She
wasn’t mermaid or fish, just another voiceless woman
with amnesia. Anyone would forget an event that turned
every step into a feeling of knives (28).
Laura Madeline Wiseman’s Wake is not an experience to enter on a whim─it will swallow you, spin you about, leave you punch-drunk. But that is exactly the reason you should read it. Read it for moments like this:
…We stood there
in the blue belly of morning, with the evidence
everywhere. We wondered about justice, about our
sister’s dark jeweled rage, recalling suddenly what we’d
forgotten to tell (29).
Corinne Elysse Adams is a storycollector, writer, songstress, and teacher. She did her undergraduate degree at Sophia University in Tokyo, and received a master’s in poetry from the University of Edinburgh. She has lived and travelled all over the world, collecting stories and studying folk writing and musical traditions. She currently writes and performs music in Austin with quartet Oto Maru, and Americana/folk trio Full Moon Medicine.
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After more than a week of stuffing envelopes, the hard-copy “Best of Volume 16” Cider Press Review is on its way to contributors, subscribers, and former Book Award contest entrants.
The “Best of” issue features poems by Rebecca Baggett, Carol Berg, Jennifer Jackson Berry, Maggie Blake, Ace Boggess, John Bradley, Christine Butterworth-McDermott, Sharon Chmielarz, Lisa J. Cihlar, Joan Colby, Michael Collins, Gemma Cooper-Novack, Jimmie Cumbie, Carol V. Davis, Paul Dickey, Iris Jamahl Dunkle, Carol Ellis, Sarah Estes, David Eye, Evelyn Clark Farbman, Shawn Fawson, Janice Greenwood, David Hathwell, Gary Hawkins, Sara Henning, Brian Patrick Heston, Louisa Howerow, Ann Hudson, Amie Keddy, Heather Lang, Susanna Lang, Mercedes Lawry, Bernadette McBride, Amy Meckler, Colleen Michaels, Nancy Carol Moody, Carolyn Moore, Mary Moore, Susannah Nevison, Amy Newday, Autumn Newman, Sharon Olson, Mary Elizabeth Parker, Lynn Pedersen, Kevin Phan, Katherine Rauk, Geri Rosenzweig, Michael G. Smith, Heather Sommer, Sarah Sousa, Joannie Stangeland, Kelly Terwilliger, Lisken Van Pelt Dus, Ryan Vine, Donna Vorreyer, Chelsea Wagenaar, Mark Wagenaar, Marq Wilson, Laura Madeline Wiseman, Anne Harding Woodworth, Matthew Zingg. Book reviews by Ken Hada and Gary Leising.
To order your own or extra copies, please visit the CPR Bookstore.