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Stranger Still [Jun. 24th, 2014|10:54 am]
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     It seems they're having Martian trouble in Lincoln, Nebraska. At least that's the impression one takes from Laura Madeline Wiseman's chapbook Stranger Still, from Finishing Line Press.
     Pittsburghers will be glad to know that there is, of course, a reference to Mars, PA. There are all sorts of references, because the magic of this chapbook is that Wiseman doesn't settle for just one metaphor. She explores quite a variety of meanings for the Martians. They are the Other, they are Us, they are freedom, they are bondage; and they are a threat to dust ruffles everywhere.
     My particular favorites were "Historical Study" (when the cranes sing, we know what they are singing) and "Why Not to Buy Martians Sundaes Topped with Cherries." Another touching one is "Misnomer" which undermines the whole concept of the chapbook, actually. "First Contact" puts a nice twist on Halloween.
This is one case where the whole is much more than the sum of its parts. I had already seen a couple of these poems in print, by themselves, elsewhere. They did not have as much impact as they do in the collection, because the different takes on the same apparent theme give a richness to the idea that isn't visible in the individual poems.
     I'll be using this collection as a classroom illustration.