A 2016 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award Finalist for Sports
Velocipede is a stunningly crafted collection of poetry about a ride, with a magical, imaginative opening sequence "Your first bike was a hot pink Schwinn with a banana seat, a basket with flowers, yellow tassels fluttering...." If you follow Wiseman on social media, you surely know that she is a long-distance cyclist and participate in multi-day bike rides such as RAGBRAI, the long bike ride all the way across the state of Iowa that attracts nearly 20,0000 cyclists annually. Velocipede is inspired by the story of her first long-distance ride, including the award winning "Roadside Kiddie Pool," which won the 2015 Beecher's Award in Poetry.
Even if you are not already a bike enthusiast, the embodied presentness throughout the poems demonstrate a relationship between human and bicycle that is special, intimate and reciprocal. There is a psychic and material price to the freedom of motion and Wiseman’s words will convince you it is worth every beautifully sore muscle.
– Greg Kosmicki
Praise for Velocipede
As in much of Laura Madeline Wiseman’s work, Velocipede invites readers to lean in and hear voices usually lost in the din; in this case, the grinding of gears, the slipping of chains, tires on the road. These sensual poems illuminate the intimate relationship between bicycle and human, sometimes in the beauty of a symbiosis where “you began to trust muscle, sunshine, the language spoken of wheels” and the other moments where tensions heighten and the human body succumbs to “metal” and “teeth oiled,” having to “bare our reminders—road-rash, bruises on tail, gouges of flesh.” Even if you are not already a bike enthusiast, the embodied presentness throughout the poems demonstrate a relationship between human and bicycle that is special, intimate and reciprocal. There is a psychic and material price to the freedom of motion and Wiseman’s words will convince you it is worth every beautifully sore muscle. – Sarah A. Chavez
Who knew bicycles have inner lives? Or that 10 American writers, from Twain to Miller, had relationships with bikes? Or, even, who knows—What the heck’s a Velocipede? From the invocation of “Cyclist,” a poem that gives you the unquestionable sense of having stumbled into Satori somewhere inside the layers of a bicyclist’s energy bar made of spiritual instruction and a profound meshing of the human body to a machine— Laura Madeline Wiseman knows, and reveals all, as in her “midnight delirium,” in “Wants and Needs.” Velocipede is little squares and rectangles of words, selfies from every stop on every bike, from Big Wheel pony-tailed gang membership, to biking through the annealing metamorphosis into becoming ordinary gods, “wafting patchouli, bodies sun-bronzed” in “Landing Town.” Wow! What a ride! – Greg Kosmicki
Our bikes have watched us all our lives. They bear our load. With great patience, moving past short-lived babbling fads like treadmills, big screen TVs, and big box stores, Laura Madeline Wiseman’s bikes (which are our bikes) help us to both remember and predict our own road stories. Likewise, Wiseman reminds us that just as the bike needs us, so does the poem. And, with Wiseman’s bikes, each experience is just as real. We have the best seat in the house! It’s our world speaking with us, it’s “the white hot crumple of metal and flesh,” and along the path of “cornfields and muscle, hog lots and sunburn, road cracks and thirst,” Wiseman is waving you over, inviting you to begin to feel—to paraphrase Frances Willard—that you plus the bicycle equals you plus the world. This is just a wonderful world of intimacy and endurance, and I want to live in it. Wiseman has convinced me that I can. – Scott Abels