Gold Quoin Press, 2012
The poems in the letterpress book Unclose the Door are based on the life of the nineteenth century lecturer, Matilda Fletcher (1842-1909), who spoke among other suffragists of her time, such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Frances Willard. During her forty year career, she also invented and patented a design for traveling trunks, wrote bills that were passed into law, and published several books.
What a fascinating, eloquent way to open history, to enter rooms of rich voices and care which precede our own time – Laura Madeline Wiseman skillfully honors the stories of her ancestors and all our lives by inviting us to enter with her.
– Naomi Shihab Nye
Because, as history has shown, they are so often erased, preserving the stories of the foremothers may be the ultimate feminist act. Laura Madeline Wiseman’s Unclose the Door performs artistic homage to a character from the poet’s own family tree—suffragist, lecturer, and inventor Matilda Fletcher—by giving her voice in this collection. Following the tough, thoughtful Matilda through intimacy, loss, and activism, Wiseman packs these poems with historical detail and insights into Fletcher’s personal interactions—and adventures—in elegant, compelling poetic language.
– Lisa Lewis
Linked through her family history to Matilda Fletcher—suffragist, writer, lecturer, inventor (of an improved portable trunk), and the subject of the well-crafted work in Unclose the Door—Laura Madeline Wiseman’s book should interest all readers of poetry, not only those interested in historical poems. Politically aware, Wiseman’s writing in poems like “Judge Hilton and the Women’s Hotel: Matilda Lectures” illustrates the tribulations of an unescorted woman’s negotiation of public space in that period. Wiseman uses letters and other narrative forms within her chapbook to evoke a linear timeline in 19th century America and to evoke a personality vivid on the page. Images of Fletcher—her travels with Susan B. Anthony, the contexts of her lectures, her reaction to the proposal of her second husband—leap from the poems.
– Susana H. Case