Review by Martina Robinson
As a reader, I appreciate authors who make me work a little to truly understand their material. Drive me to the dictionary to learn an obscure word. Inspire me to use Google to comprehend their reference. I’m one of those women who, instead of saying, “You had me at hello,” is more likely to say, “You had me at data acquisition.” I don’t mind the effort, as long as the work itself is worth my energy expenditure. While reading Sprung I gave no thought as to whether the exertion was appropriate.
As a fellow poet, reading Sprung was simply a flawless way to spend a few days. I’m not particularly fond of the prose poem as a form, but Wiseman’s use of language is just so lovely, I changed my mind. In fact, I’m thinking of turning one of her prose poems into a found poem. According to dictionary.com, found poetry is “a composition made by combining fragments of such printed material as newspapers, signs, or menus, and rearranging them into the form of a poem.” Normally, I’d feel too strange reformatting another poet’s poem into my own found poem. However, because these pieces of Wiseman’s read so like prose to me, I’m less concerned with violating this new to me and much admired in brief encounter poet’s own voice by superimposing my own overtop.
I also enjoyed that the poet’s seeming obsession with poems formed using the non-traditional, non-rhyming couplet. Couplets don’t normally do much for me as a reader, but (as with prose poems) Wiseman illustrates the best the form has to offer. I also enjoyed the juxtaposition between humor and fierce politics. The best example of this is “Dinner for Two,” which immediately precedes “After Reading up on genital Cutting or (Half the Sky).” Not many poets can create successful poems in both the humor and political arenas, much less make them blend right next to each other in the same collection. Wiseman does.
As much as I enjoyed this collection and think you will too, I want readers to know that I didn’t love every poem. This is no different than any other book. The biggest issue I had was with the whole “my imaginary cock” concept. I was unsure if Wiseman was referring to her imaginary male genitals, her spirit’s XY half, or some actual representation of a high school ex-boyfriend she finally let go of when she entered her own self-awareness. The “cock” theme did nothing for me, but someone else might love it.
I rate this book an 8.5/10. Its 58 pages are great for either piecemeal reading or curling up with to devour in a single sitting.
Martina is a 35-year-old poet, disabled, bisexual woman, person of faith and multi-issue activist who ran for Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts on the Green-Rainbow Party ticket in 2006.