about the book
Mercy Songs is a chapbook of poems by Kai and Anders Carlson-Wee. Written as a call-and-response between brothers, the book is at once a conversation, an adventure through gritty American landscapes, and a prayer.
praise for mercy songs
"This is a wholly unique and powerful collection of poems. The sense of purpose puts one in mind of Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road,” but the darker need to search for meaning in the American plains and points farther west—a vastness forlorn and almost unknowable—belongs to the shared vision of these two brother-poets. Their journeys through our national ambiguity discover a flicker in our roots, a spark popping from obscurity that rises into the heavens."
"Strangers, stragglers, the homeless, and a girl named Saturday who plays the guitar—from Seattle, to Portland, to Bolinas, Mercy Songs traces our human roots back to the first of us who roamed the earth, back when “We knew there was something important inside the sound.” These brothers speak to one another in a private language made lyric, made public, knowing no matter who they meet along the way, no one will ever know them as intimately as they know one another. A hauntingly beautiful and unusual debut collection."
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Kai Carlson-Wee has rollerbladed professionally, surfed north of the Arctic Circle, and traveled across the country by freight train. He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, and his work has appeared in Narrative Magazine, Best New Poets, TriQuarterly, Crazyhorse, and The Missouri Review, which selected his poems for the 2013 Editor’s Prize. His photography has been featured in Narrative Magazine and his co-directed poetry film, “Riding the Highline,” won the special jury prize for Innovation in Documentary Short Film at the 2015 Napa Valley Film Festival. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, he lives in San Francisco and is a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University.
Anders Carlson-Wee is a 2015 NEA Creative Writing Fellow and the author of Dynamite, winner of the 2015 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. His work has appeared in Narrative, New England Review, The Southern Review, AGNI, Best New Poets, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading series. In collaboration with his brother Kai, he co-directed the poetry film Riding the Highline, which won the special jury prize for Innovation in Documentary Short Film at the Napa Valley Film Festival. Winner of Ninth Letter’s Poetry Award and New Delta Review’s Editors' Choice Prize, he’s received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Camargo Foundation, Ucross, and Vanderbilt University.