Winner of the 2000 Green Rose Prize
In Perfect Disappearance, the much anticipated follow-up to Martha Rhodes’ startling first book, we shift gears: the damaged child/woman has grown into a full-fledged adult who continues to speak for this singular “unkillable” life. Rhodes now enters new realms of the darkly erotic conjoined with the liberated sensibility of a survivor. Cagey, evasive, subservient, unappeasable, Rhodes animates her speakers with a voice full of grit and urgency, and the results are electrifying.
“Perfect Disappearance is the record––so far––of an odd, courageous, and very gifted consciousness, whose witness I admire with all my heart.”
“It might be the wind; it might be a whim from within the self or from some powerful other, but suddenly the world is rendered profoundly unstable in these haunted and haunting poems. We encounter a sense of jeopardy all the more unsettling for the poet’s linguistic control and astute, shaping intelligence. As if all the gifts of poetic ordering are only just adequate to the dark that animated the poems (and the world). We are placed squarely and powerfully in an intimate version of Rilke’s vision of beauty as ‘nothing but beginning of Terror we’re still just able to bear.'”
“Rhodes’ allusiveness is grouded in the psychological symbolism of deep-image poetry rather than the intertextuality of postmodernism. She uses dreams, dreams of ghosts, and dreamlike symbols: a house, the wind, and a bridge between the living and the dead, dream and reality, memory and imagination. These symbols represent the poet, and the poet’s relationship to experience. Rhodes writes about her experience, but even as she uses disruptive and transgressive images, she does not rhetorically dramatize her experience. Instead, where what she represents is her self, she foregrounds the notion that representation does violence to what is represented.”
—Catherine Daly, from her review in Frigate
“Rhodes’s poems: crisp, precise, erotic language, anchored in place but adrift in consciousness, the metaphysical like a valence cloud enveloping the physical, elusive and illusive all at the same time.”
—Vince Gotera, North American Review
Martha Rhodes is the author of At the Gate and the Director and one of the founding editors of Four Way Books, an independent literary press. She is also the Executive Founding Director of the CCS Reading Series. Her poems have appeared in Agni, American Poetry Review, Columbia, Harvard Review, The Marlboro Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. Rhodes has taught at Emerson College, New School University, and University of California at Irvine. She currently teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. At present, Rhodes is working toward a fourth poetry collection.