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Smile Variations by Martha Kapos

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Martha Kapos was born and brought up in the USA. Her professional life brought together both writing and the visual arts—she taught at the Chelsea College of Art until 2001 when she became Assistant Poetry Editor of Poetry London. Her first collection (2003) was a Jerwood/Aldeburgh Prize winner, and both this and two subsequent books were PBS recommendations.

The poems here are strikingly visual. They compel close attention—often surprising the reader into something like the puzzled clarity of a child.

Below is the opening section from the title sequence ‘Smile Variations’:


Between the stations of her embrace
the surface of her face is disturbed

but what I’m seeing are the widening
circles on a lake while I wait

up here looking over the side of the boat
at the oblivious ripples where her smile

deep and enormously small
its edges fitfully wavering back and forth

unseen in the opaque green room of herself
can only be imagined at the bottom.



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