Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience
by Laura Madeline Wiseman
Lavender Ink Press, 2014; 109 pp
Reviewed by Kristina Marie Darling
Laura Madeline Wiseman, a writer whose work appears widely in literary magazines and anthologies, has forged a reputation for poems that originate in archival material, yet present myriad implications for contemporary women's issues. With that said, Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience offers a novel take on her trademark modernization of historical material. This stunning book-length sequence re-imagines the well-known Bluebeard myth, presenting readers with a provocative revision of this age-old story. Her expertly crafted collection takes a multi-perspectival approach as the book is narrated by each of three sisters, who one by one marry the same man after the demise of the wife who preceded her. Wiseman ultimately redirects the focus of our attention, feminizing what had been a story of male ambition, greed, and violence. She writes, "It comes down to choice, to two I dos,/even the skin and the petting, even/the held black hands..." What's perhaps most fascinating about this passage is the provocative relationship that Wiseman creates between style and the work's subject matter. Frequently filling traditional forms with subversive content, her formal choices suite this feminist re-envisioning of the Bluebeard myth perfectly. The book is filled with expertly crafted pieces like this one, in which Wiseman works within the confines of tradition to expand what is possible within it. This is a stunning addition to her already accomplished body of work.