Laura Madeline Wiseman’s astonishing new full-length collection, Journey to Nowhere, is a meditation on hunger, both physical and mental. She skillfully weaves prose poems and lyrics together in this collection to accomplish what poets have been doing since the beginning of language and Whitman so aptly described. “We sing songs of ourselves” she declares in “Mythical Birds of the Sun Paradise” early in the collection. She chose a quote from Whitman as one of the numerous epigraphs to preface each section. This is appropriate because Wiseman is, like Whitman, “the poet of the body and the poet of the soul.” These poems encompass a vast physical and emotional terrain—a childhood of poverty waiting for welfare checks and food stamps, cockroaches crawling in the kitchen, reading feminist texts in college, details of practicing yoga, long bicycle trips, navigating complicated relationships, parental divorce, and political resistance. In “A Mind on Wind,” a prayer or letter to all that is dear, Wiseman writes, “Dear we’re killed if we speak out.” She never allows us to forget that the stakes are high in these poems. Hunger exists at the center of the collection and holds each section together. “It was all…initials and promises—our symbols that meant hunger was life.” Wiseman artfully shows us the way our individual and collective hunger can both harm and save us. The urgency of this collection, with its political and cultural commentary, is palpable. In her previous collections, Wiseman has already shown that she has a fierce voice. This collection proves that she is a force to be reckoned with in contemporary poetry.
—Jennifer Franklin, author of No Small Gift