The ongoing mystery of the disappearing self

Martin Corless-Smith

Fall 2020




This book had me at "Martini Rosso on the mantlepiece," though also: the last glimpse of plum trees in blossom (from a death-bed), and the "dull primrose/white" of a wall in a seaside town that the speaker will never visit again. Martin Corless-Smith has written a tidal work: the intense present of making art, and the sensory surge of the last minutes, or hours, of an artist's life. Something ebbs: "No, I can’t recall having met her. Once I was bowled over in the ocean...." Something appears: "...another world, like a door underwater." This is perimeter consciousness, drawn from what lies beyond the frame: a sky that's only and actually "colour," and a sense of natural time that's both entropic and livid: "Lichen-like." A painter and poet, Corless-Smith draws upon the water table of his own gifts to preserve, destroy and create The ongoing mystery of the disappearing self, again and again. "Call the beautiful a surge in feeling an atmosphere a reaction a response to the world to our senses but whatever it is it cannot be held fast." I keep returning to this line as the watermark or imprint of this collection, something that's both a part of the paper it's written on and the means of its dissolution.

—Bhanu Kapil

Martin Corless-Smith is an English poet and painter who lives and teaches in Boise, Idaho. His seventh collection of poems, The Fool and The Bee, was released in 2019 by Shearsman Books (UK). Odious Horizons, his versions of Horace was published by Miami University Press in 2019. A book of essays, The Poet's Tomb came out in 2020 from Parlor Press. His first novel, This Fatal Looking Glass was published by SplitLevel Texts in 2015