Join us for a vivid chronicle of friendship and loneliness amid the precarity of life in late capitalism, when every day is a fight for survival.
In poems bursting with narrative power, Disease of Kings explores the tender yet volatile friendship between two young scammers living off the fat of society. Here are stories of an odd couple who scrounge, con, hustle, and steal, alternately proud of their ability to fabricate a life at the margins and ashamed of their own laziness and greed.
Rich with a specificity of voices, these poems locate themselves in a midwestern city at once gritty with reality and achingly anonymous. Here, the central speaker and his best—only—friend, North, come together and apart, nursing a sense of freedom that is fraught with codependence and isolation.
With plainspoken language and tremendous tonal range, Anders Carlson-Wee leads us into the heart of one friendship’s uneasy domesticity—a purgatory where, in this poet’s vision, it is possible for loss to give way to hope, lack to fulfillment, shame to gratitude.
Anders Carlson-Wee is the author of Disease of Kings (W.W. Norton, 2023), The Low Passions (W.W. Norton, 2019), a New York Public Library Book Group Selection, and Dynamite (Bull City Press, 2015), winner of the Frost Place Chapbook Prize. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, Harvard Review, BuzzFeed, American Poetry Review, and many other publications. The recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, he is the winner of the Poetry International Prize. Anders holds an MFA from Vanderbilt University and is represented by Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agents. He lives in Los Angeles.
F. Douglas Brown is the author of two poetry collections, ICON (Writ Large Press, 2018), and Zero to Three (University of Georgia, 2014), winner of the 2013 Cave Canem Poetry Prize selected by US Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith. He also co-authored with poet Geffrey Davis, Begotten (URB Books, 2016), a chapbook of poetry as part of the Floodgate Poetry Series. Brown, an educator for over 25 years, currently teaches African American Poetry and African American Studies at Loyola High School of Los Angeles, where he serves as the Director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion.
Michelle Bitting is the author of five poetry collections, Good Friday Kiss, winner of the inaugural De Novo First Book Award; Notes to the Beloved, which won the Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award; The Couple Who Fell to Earth; Broken Kingdom, winner of the 2018 Catamaran Poetry Prize; and Nightmares & Miracles (Two Sylvias Press, 2022), winner of the Wilder Prize and recently named one of Kirkus Reviews 2022 Best of Indie. Her chapbook Dummy Ventriloquist is forthcoming in 2024. Bitting is a lecturer in poetry and creative writing at Loyola Marymount University.
Edgar Kunz is the author of two collections of poems: Fixer (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2023) and Tap Out (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2019), a New York Times New & Noteworthy pick. He has been a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, a MacDowell Fellow, and a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. New poems appear in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, APR, Poetry, and Oxford American. He lives in Baltimore and teaches at Goucher College.