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, 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.
Love really does save the day in Wake—not the obsessive love of Death, who wants to possess the speaker, but the kind of love that checks on someone during a road trip and urges someone to leave that attic door shut for good.
– Raylyn Clacher, New Orleans Review
Praise for Wake
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. – Wendy Barker
What Wiseman does so masterfully in this collection is pull her reader through the darkest of territories then offer redemption. Love really does save the day in Wake—not the obsessive love of Death, who wants to possess the speaker, but the kind of love that checks on someone during a road trip and urges someone to leave that attic door shut for good. The gift that Wiseman so generously gives her reader is the ability to walk with the dead while knowing that love returns us to life. – Raylyn Clacher, New Orleans Review
Laura Madeline Wiseman’s Wake…recall the moment when we might enter the world, begin to see differently, maybe want to take everything on, no longer naïve, a sad yet awakening moment in life, but not without humor. Such is this collection, as with Wiseman’s others, a page-turning ride of abstract and real, calling to the shifting reality and surreality of contemporary life, and also, with subtle feminist undertones, encouraging the reader to take action in their own life. – Sally Deskins, Rhizomatic Ideas
Wiseman invites the reader to climb into the cart of death to witness death’s work, to examine death in our daily lives, and to question why we fear the inevitable….Wiseman employs phrases like ‘dead center’ and ‘dead of night,’ which remind the reader that death is not only a part of us, but also a part of our language. As we ride with the lady to the end of the line, we find the speaker laughing. What else can we do in the face of death, but laugh? – Cat Dixon, Mid-American Review
In her latest collection, Wake, Laura Madeline Wiseman takes the reader on a wild gallop with the ladies of death in her exploration of the impermeable through a dark, splintered, and comedic labyrinth of the underworld and beyond. – Margo Taft Stever, Valley Voices
Related Links & Sample Poems