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Women and Ghosts by Kristina Marie Darling is reviewed in Cider Press



by Donna Vorreyer

Women and Ghosts by Kristina Marie Darling  (2015, BlazeVOX) $16 paper ISBN: 978-1609642198
Women and Ghosts
by Kristina Marie Darling
(2015, BlazeVOX)
$16 paper
ISBN: 978-1609642198
In her latest collection of hybrid fiction/poetry/essays, Women and Ghosts, Kristina Maria Darling braids stories of Shakespeare’s women with that of a female speaker who also feels “disappeared” by an unnamed man. Using greyscale, strike-through and bold text to create these “ghost” stories serves to underscore the silenced voices of these women, the extent to which they are defined only by the men around them. In this way, the title is not about women and ghosts as two separate entities, but about those two entities being one and the same.

In erasures of the female lines of Shakespearean women (numbered “Essays on Failures”), Darling is quick to hone in on the subservience of the language, choosing to highlight/use the phrase “my lord” in almost every erasure, thirteen times alone in the piece created from the lines of Ophelia. And it is Ophelia who, time and time again, in different parts of the text, reminds us that she has been “led and misled” by her love, a refrain that the narrator sings as well. In the opening section, “Daylight Has Already Come,” after speaking of Ophelia, the narrator asks, “But what does it mean to give one’s consent? We are led and misled by those we love, an expectant white backdrop shuddering in the distance.” In “Essays on Production,” a series of grayscale, strike-through prose sections, the narrator, working as playwright, reimagines each of Shakespeare’s women, Ophelia’s new soliloquy telling the audience that “to mislead is an act of violence, a theft, an assault on reason and the mind.”

When the narrator speaks in footnotes in the section “Women and Ghosts,” the language emphasizes the presumed authority of the male voice and a lack of female power. Phrases such as he says/he tells me/ he talks/he tries to convince/he calls/he writes dominate these small sections, starting with “He tells me that my mind is broken. Maybe I was born that way. When I was born, he says, the gunshots misfired.” Later the narrator wonders, “When did language grow hostile towards me. When did memory become that empty room, that dark cabinet.” The last section, an exploration of the meaning of the word landscape, both in the narrator’s relationship and in Shakespeare’s time, points out the time-honored tradition of using landscape as metaphor for women’s bodies, but also for a character’s internal mental state, violence, and free will – all four are issues threaded throughout the book, and they come together at the end in an almost detached and scholarly way, a striking effect.

Read the Whole Review Here

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An Apparently Impossible Adventure by Laura Madeline Wiseman Now Available!

Laura Madeline Wiseman has created a strange and wondrous world in this ambitious new collection. In deft turns, Wiseman travels multiple geographies – the world of myth and true fairy tales, the underworld of sketchy hotel rooms and desire, the natural landscape that enchants and confounds, the worlds of want and need and love and loss. Her voice by turns gritty and warm, edgy and elegiac, Wiseman expertly weaves a tale of obsession with the girlish femininity of fairies within the larger story of how women must become shape shifters to navigate the terrain of relationship to the self and to the world. We see what it means to possess and to be possessed. “I think of love--/land, vegetables, fruits, fat and round and free//how some can be spared. There is care, other stories/we can cultivate here, other worlds to see--” Her fairies are by turn gritty and fluffy: they “sit on crates on corners with cardboard signs…Some even keep very small dogs.” By the book’s end, we have emerged from the underworld, the threads of relationship rewoven, restored but deeply changed by the journey.

—Kate Lynn Hibbard, author of Sweet Weight

Laura Madeline Wiseman’s prose is razor-sharp, cutting through all the falsities we cling to, exposing us all hiding beneath the masks we wear, exposing our wounds, our wandering frailties, all that we sidestep, and most deeply, exposing the ‘mists that divide.’ An Apparently Impossible Adventure is a stunning read.

—Karen Stefano, author of The Secret Games of Words

Fairies are sinister creatures, seductive and cruel, as is Laura Madeline Wiseman’s newest collection, An Apparently Impossible Adventure. With her sharp wit and insightful eye, Wiseman takes us on a journey through American consumerism and its numbing dollar store obsessions, across landscapes both lost and rediscovered, into the heart of a marriage tested and torn. In this fine and finely-wrought collection, Wiseman lifts the veils that divide us and incants the magics that bring us together again.

—Liz Kay, author of Monsters: A Love Story

In this book Laura Madeline Wiseman fashions a complex weaving of the inner world and modern relationship difficulties presented in an archetypal retelling of classical hero myth. Are the fairies real? Clearly they represent ego manifestations and the interplay of jinn plane and earthly travail. Whether lost in the fairy forest (illusion or reality?), arguing with lover or caring for motherless nieces the reader will travel along a deep journey of the self and other in today's America.

—Barbara Schmitz, author of Always the Detail

The art of the narrative is alive and thriving in Laura Madeline Wiseman’s An Apparently Impossible Adventure. Here in this world, fantasy juxtaposes reality: fairies and illness, American Gothic and married life, pirates and popcorn. Yet throughout these poems, Wiseman charms us with the specific and the real—whether a mandrake seed unfurls the first white tongue or our heroes that drove without seatbelts, we travel through her world of relationships—both natural and mystical. In grief and beauty, Wiseman’s well-crafted, engaging poems consider the deeper tales we’ve been given—“a promise of packaged life, Just enough magic to cup in your hands”—in a book you will return to again and again.

—Kelli Russell Agodon, author of Hourglass Museum

Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of over twenty books and chapbooks and the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence. Her collaborative book Intimates and Fools is an Honor Book for the 2015 Nebraska Book Award. Her recent books are Drink (BlazeVOX Books), Wake (Aldrich Press), and The Bottle Opener (Red Dashboard). She holds a doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has received an Academy of American Poets Award, a Mari Sandoz/Prairie Schooner Award, and the Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship. Her poetry won the 2015 Beecher’s Contest in Poetry, selected by LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs. Her poetry was also a finalist for the 2015 District Lit Poetry Prize, selected by Sarah Vap. Her book Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience was nominated for the 2015 Elgin Award. Her critical reviews have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, Calyx, and The Iowa Review. Currently, she teaches poetry in the Red Hen Press Writing for the Schools Program and Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Book Information:

· Paperback: 102 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-232-7



An Apparently Impossible Adventure by Laura Madeline Wiseman Book Preview by Geoffrey Gatza

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