Threnody // Laura Madeline Wiseman

Threnody explores the figure of lady-death, an icon come to life in these poems about the death cart, the death kiss, and a narrative dance with death. This is a collection of linked micro fictions & vignettes. They read like prose poems, too, which is part of the beauty in them—these small works live in a liminal space, somehow between poetry and prose, but also an almost-dream state between life and death. Sometimes versus too. (Porkbelly Press, 2014) // available in our shop

Laura Madeline Wiseman’s Threnody is one kickass, wailing dirge that has death driving shotgun, “more hold you than break you apart,” luminous, pulsating poetry that defies fear and denial.Meg Tuite

These poems are powerful, possessing great lyrical intensity and a profound sense of the mystery inherent in this mythic feminine journey into the underworld. Here the poet is an archeologist of the subterranean mind, lifting bits and pieces of knowledge like shards of pottery back up to the light.Devreaux Baker

Mythic rituals have hints of danger and sex and regret, and Wiseman’s incantatory language mixes dream and nightmare, and Eros and Thanatos, in little portraits that soothe as they trouble. I admired each piece’s swift iconography.Timothy Schaffert

If you’d like to hear Wiseman read one of her poems from the chap, you can follow the audio link: here. This is a contemporary dance with death, set in modern day. It’s also a bit of a ghost story about what might follow you home from el museo.

An excerpt from Threnody titled “Kissing Death:” (listen)

The lady of death gives me the kiss of death. I don’t know why. I was just standing in jeans and a ribbed tee, my belt hard and black, the metal clasp opening, warm in my hands. She appeared in my room, looked up at me from those dark sockets—her body all rib bone, clavicle, pelvis flair, hands and fingers as delicate as cages of dead birds. I didn’t want the kiss of death. We both stared at it for a while, crawling and scooting on the cement floor. I grabbed an empty coffee cup and trapped it, but when I knelt to slide a piece of paper beneath the edge, it was gone. I looked up at death, but she shrugged and reached into the space where her heart had been for another.

About the Author

Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of more than a dozen books and chapbooks and the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Her recent books are American Galactic (Martian Lit Books, 2014), Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience (Lavender Ink, 2014), Queen of the Platform (Anaphora Literary Press, 2013), Sprung (San Francisco Bay Press, 2012), and the collaborative book Intimates and Fools (Les Femmes Folles Books, 2014) with artist Sally Deskins. She holds a doctorate from the University of Nebraska and has received an Academy of American Poets Award, a Mari Sandoz/Prairie Schooner Award, and the Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Mid-American Review, and Feminist Studies.


“Lady Death & Her Arrows” (guache+paper, 9 x 5 inches).
Artist: Nicci Mechler //

The original painting for the cover is gouache on paper. Here it’s reproduced on matte paper & handsewn into a trimmed chapbook.

More can also be found: goodreads

books from other presses

The Hunger of the Cheeky Sisters: Ten Tales (Les Femmes Folles Books, 2015)
Wake (Aldritch Press, 2015)
Drink (BlazeVOX Books, 2015)
An Apparently Impossible Adventure (BlazeVOX Books, 2016)
Leaves of Absence (Red Dashboard, LLC, 2016)