Through a Certain Forest
Cover Art by Amy Kollar Anderson
Through a supernatural wood ravaged by fabled creatures of our mythic past, Through a Certain Forest follows two heroes. Among sentient trees, hill-men stewards, and unstable marriages, they seek the truth of legends. They unearth extraordinary imbalances between natural landscapes and unnatural uses in a forested world. They discover what grafts nuclear threat to troll dolls from pop culture, tree agricultural, and genetic mutations. Amid this radioactive fallout, who are the giants whose steps shake mountains with horror? From a post-apocalyptic vantage, how does a modern relationship disintegrate through unchecked chemical addiction, dependency, and madness? During nuclear warfare, what healing might be possible by turning toward the intelligence of trees? By revisiting fairy-tales in classic literature and folklore, Through a Certain Forest cultivates a contemporary retelling. Follow this leaf-strewn path into an unknown woodland of familiar and unfamiliar beings that frighten, delight, and surprise.
Through a Certain Forest’s controlling symbols—trees, trolls, fairy rings, thunder, and bombs—are multivalent, linking primal ancient beauties and blasted modern realities.
– Clif Mason
Praise for Through a Certain Forest
Through a Certain Forest draws us irrevocably into the faerie- and ghost-inhabited wilderness where we’ve all been lost in dreams. Evocative as hell, it draws on the accumulated weight of human folktales; even the title evokes the language of French fairy-tales: Il y avait jadis une certaine forêt … and, yes, I was enchanted. Trees as exploited women and as the inheritors of the earth, trolls as men and as the kitschy detritus of our society, share, at times, with humans a landscape cratered by unexplained bombings, and somehow, survivors of one sort or another pull through. These poems are filled with entities familiar to us who in turn gaze into the abyssal mirror of what does my life mean? A wonder-filled collection. – F.J. Bergmann
We are given a field guide to trees in Laura Madeline Wiseman’s latest book of poetry Through a Certain Forest, realizing as we step in that we are deep in the mythos of ourselves. Each poem is a persona, each tree species recounting its survival from humans. Us homo sapiens are the trolls lurking through the middle of the collection. In the midst of bombings and ecological disasters caused by us is the private life of the speaker, too, living with her own personal troll. Things are bleak, like the first half of a fairy tale. In a car on the freeway, the speaker thinks, “I want to ask how we’ll pay all the tolls still left before us.” We know there is always a cost. Yet the trees each have a voice of resistance as even laurels share, “Now we are the welcome—survivors, winners, and crowned.” We should be listening. – Dennis Etzel, Jr.
Laura Madeline Wiseman’s Through a Certain Forest is a quest, searing and searching, through a dystopian landscape that is partly natural, partly ruined by human choice. The collection’s controlling symbols—trees, trolls, fairy rings, thunder, and bombs—are multivalent, linking primal ancient beauties and blasted modern realities. The saintly, forgiving trees are exploited and despoiled—sharing psychic space with a female speaker who suffers irruptions of domestic violence and sexual violation. This collection presents an audacious new myth—and it is shattering. The book also offers resolution and hope in a language of intense lyricism and music. – Clif Mason
Laura Madeline Wiseman mixes the modern with the mythic so seamlessly I often emerge from her poems having forgotten which world I am in. Her apocalyptic visions in Through a Certain Forest are no exception; a true master of metaphor, she weaves tales of the takeover of trolls—those predatory people your mother warned you about—and the healing power of nature even at the end of the world. This collection confirms Wiseman as one of my favorite modern poets. – Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
Via Laura Madeline Wiseman’s precise and nuanced language, Through a Certain Forest calls forth myth and folklore to illuminate the lives of women in a chaotic world. These evocative poems meld imagery of botany, trolls, factories, and apocalyptic disaster to reveal a narrative that is both beautiful and unsettling. Some poems give voice to plant life, each species forming a kind of collective consciousness, female voices sounding out against witnessed violence and destruction. In other poems, a woman shapes her life in the aftermath—joggers wear headbands, neon haired troll dolls remain hidden in old boxes, trolls hunker down under bridges. The world presented is much like our present world and vastly different from it. In the end, the poems reveal, “permanent scars” may remain, but life continues on. – Andrea Blythe
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