The Mercy of Traffic

by Wendy Taylor Carlisle





Price and Format: 
$15 paperback
Page Count: 
Publication Date: 
March, 2019
Publication Status: 





The Mercy of Traffic is now available for $15, plus $3 shipping within the US. Please contact us for international orders.


Winner of the Phillip McMath Post-Publication Book Award from the
Arkansas Writers MFA Program at the University of Central Arkansas


Unlikely Books is thrilled to present the latest book by masterful poet Wendy Taylor Carlisle, The Mercy of Traffic.

The Mercy of Traffic is an intensely southern book, with a profound sense of place, focusing on the Arkansas Ozarks, as well as Carlisle's adventures and misadventures elsewhere in Dixie. It discusses decades of economic, sociopolitical, and personal changes, spanning her childhood, the Vietnam era, and all of the traumas since. The Mercy of Traffic explores the author's sexuality, from childhood to the present, and the way others interact with that sexuality. Come journey through the 20th and 21st Centuries with this remarkable woman and poet.





And see what people are saying about The Mercy of Traffic:

In one of the poems in this exceptional collection, Wendy Taylor Carlisle quotes Wallace Stevens’s belief that “The greatest poverty is not to live in a physical world.”  By that standard, Carlisle is one of the richest poets alive.  Her poems are packed with powerfully vivid and original sensory detail.  Have you ever noticed that a grackle looks “shiny as spoiled meat”?  Well, after reading this book you will forever see grackles—and many other aspects of the physical world—through Carlisle’s wise and incisive eyes.  What’s more, you’ll come to know Carlisle, or at least the persona she creates, in all of her intimate complexity.  Her book ends with the words “all I have to say is, Here I am, Honey.  Here I am.”  And here she most definitely is.  To paraphrase Whitman, who holds this book holds a woman.
—David Jauss, author of Glossolalia: New & Selected Stories and Nice People: New & Selected Stories II

Fearless and irrepressible, Wendy Taylor Carlisle’s The Mercy of Traffic touches down on a Florida childhood survived by “cunning and wit,” where, as she acerbically remarks, “they taught fashion which is disguised prejudice / and manners which are mostly separation and meanness.” Eventually escaping, she makes her picaresque way through hardships and adventures to the Ozarks, her home for many years, where the signs say “OZARK, PECHES, PUPIES FOR SALE,” and “the mountains overrun your mind / like wisteria covers a whitewashed porch.” This is a book that blazes through falsehood, that faces up to trauma, lust, and loss, and that shows us how to celebrate the world’s precarious beauty.
—Ann Fisher-Wirth, author of Mississippi and The Bones of Winter Birds

In one poem Wendy Carlisle describes how she feels “jazz seeping into me with its nightliness and its cool distance,” and indeed that may be one of the best descriptions of this outstanding book. From a central perspective in the Ozarks (including a variety of Ozark sonnets) Carlisle links an enormous variety of people and concerns. From the everyday of the grits, banjos, Everclear and country singers to Boston, embroidered chemise, the Caribbean and Vivaldi she gives us what few poets can accomplish—the real, lived world. How does she doe this—a terrific ear for language and metaphor: “In the south of my childhood, time passed / like a plate of fried chicken, she writes in one poem. “ Torrents come as a surprise,  / boil the creek with runoff, pulse the flannel hillside light with crows,” she writes in another. This is the real world she see hidden in the world we thought we knew, and now know better.  Why else would one read?
—Richard Jackson, author of Resonance

“If I ever said my life was balanced, / what I meant was on the edge of a blade,” Wendy Taylor Carlisle writes. The poems in The Mercy of Traffic are balanced so: swaying between exterior and interior, love and loneliness, pastoral and the Anthropocene. From Snow White to Elizabeth Bishop, nothing and no one can elude Carlisle’s poetic grasp, roping vivid imagery and imaginative storytelling into “Ozark Sonnets” that buck typical poetic restraints to flood across the page. “I have no choice,” she writes, “my memory is a thirsty hound.” Kneeling on memory’s sharp edge, we’re invited to cup the blade to our lips, to drink deeply of a life well-lived and rendered into song.
—Stacey Balkun, editor of Fiolet & Wing: An Anthology of Domestic Fabulism


The Mercy of Traffic is now available for $15, plus $3 shipping within the US. Please contact us for international orders.