Spindrift by Laura Madeline Wiseman
Dancing Girl Press, 2014
Reviewed by Kristina Marie Darling


In her new chapbook, Spindrift, Laura Madeline Wiseman prompts the reader to consider the myriad ways that mythologies (particularly those surrounding mermaids) intersect with the most mundane tasks (which include cooking, roller skating, and shelving library books). As the sequence unfolds, Wiseman's poems prove to be finely crafted as they are lively and engaging, offering the reader a seamless matching of form and content. She writes in a two-part poem sequence entitled "Death," "The first mermaid they found on the beach lay face down in a pool of oil---drill broke, pump spewing plumes, tar balls rolling." What's fascinating about this passage is the way that the poem is literally halved, mirroring the divide between life and death that is being described. In many ways, the diptych structure of the poem also mirrors the mermaid's physical being, evoking the divide between human and oceanic life. Wiseman dismantles binaries as quickly as she establishes them, most noticeably as images, phrases and sound motifs from the first part of the sequence are echoed in the second. "Tar balls," "fish," "Fanta bottles," and "crabs" appear and reappear, surfacing again in a wildly different context. I find Wiseman's use repetition to undermine the reader's expectations of binary distinctions to be refreshing and thought-provoking. Spindrift is filled with beautifully crafted poems like this one, in which subtle technical choices illuminate the content of the work itself.