In this fiercely musical, highly anticipated debut release from Half Mystic Press, Melissa Atkinson Mercer interrogates the width, weight, and wholeness of depression, calling out to a self reflected back as monster, as myth, as song and water and tongue. Knock asks us to consider the complications of gender and voice: who gets to speak, who gets listened to, whose stories turn to fact and whose to fiction. Unflinching and tender, this book reminds us what it takes to navigate the mind’s dark seas and come out alive.

The incantatory poems in Melissa Atkinson Mercer’s Knock “speak miracle and rage,” insistent as daybreak or high tide. These poems are reclamation spells that celebrate and reassemble the untamed, the “witch heart,” the “undarkened bell” of speech: where “mountains are the tongues of women buried for the sin of lust” and “the sea is the tongue of the woman who loved kings.” As elegiac as it is visionary, this collection invokes a “matriarchal oath” to bless the darkness inside and around us. —Emari DiGiorgio, author of The Things a Body Might Become and Girl Torpedo

Melissa Atkinson Mercer’s Knock is a stunning and startling exploration of sorrow and of strength. This book is both the myth of creation and of apocalypse, of how we are built and how we are destroyed. The stakes are high in these poems: “which story will you believe”, we’re asked, “the one where they died / or the one where they died differently”. Mercer gives us both, but in a new language, the language of dismissed goddesses hoping to find homes for their silenced tongues, and her poems refuse to choose for us. These poems sing as they disturb, they fly while they allow their speakers to drown, and they call us to make sense of a senseless world while reminding us it didn’t have to be so senseless. “what use is a tongue like mine” – one need only read Knock to find the answer, and what a glorious and impressive answer it is. —Anthony Frame, author of Where Wind Meets Wing and editor of Glass Poetry Press

The haunting and lucid speakers in Melissa Atkinson Mercer’s Knock are at once testimonial, song and portent to the psyche’s anguished interiors, “We woke in the wet black heat / to the sad song our mother knew.”  Mercer deftly crafts this maternal lineage with an authentic connection to all the vernaculars of language, palpably casting a light on the impediments of the mind. Mercer’s incantations are arresting at every turn—as the poet confronts each threshold with an uncanny sense of observation, so pristinely rendering the dualities of our enigmatic natures, “The world was a small, dark shape & we entered it.”  Artful, fierce and lyrical, these poems cast a spell on the reader indelibly. This book took me hostage, released me more alive and enlightened. —Cynthia Atkins, author of In the Event of Full Disclosure

Book details

Publication date
March 01, 2018
Page count