by Sara Sutterlin
Released March 27th, 2015
Published by Metatron Press

“Does God hang out in Greyhound bus stations?

I’d like to find him

I’d like to make him cry.”

What keeps poetry fresh, interesting, and readable in the 21st Century? For Sara Sutterlin, it’s the simple lines that unite us and uncover layers of truth in the banal. It takes writing of the utmost precision and sophistication, but she does it without fear, shame, or whatever else holds any of us back from letting our hearts sing.

I WANTED TO BE THE KNIFE is warm, generous, and inviting in its creativity. Every line is filled with discovery, and then understanding and reconciliation; each page illuminates, with clarity and conviction, all that came before it. As you read each poem, as you flip from page to page, you start to look for that one line, that one nugget of wisdom bringing everything into focus, making everything clear.

“She said: “Ask men for the truth when
they’re about to cum.

I picked some lettuce off my chest
and told her you can’t ask for the truth
It just comes out.”

Sutterlin is a writer no one has to wonder about. Her art is wildly entertaining, but it’s not without the kind of contemplation expected from “serious” poetry. What she does, something that makes few poems shine like hers, is utilize moments of contrast to reveal some truth, personal or otherwise, in deceptively simplistic writing.

An undiscerning eye can escape the profundity on the first reading, but this book rewards multiple readings and interpretations of each line, each turn of the phrase. Sometimes, when I read a poem in the chapbook, I memorize the five or six lines in a stanza and then close my eyes; the picture I see is always clear, staring me in the face. The book feels the best and the most beautiful when you simply allow it to be.

Part of the beauty of this book is how it almost feels like reading someone’s diary; and yet, I can see parts of myself in these lines. I feel understanding, I feel connected to different memories and feelings when I read Sutterlin’s work. The writing is so succinct and precise that it takes on a feeling of universality.

“You hurt my phone’s feelings,
Texting bullshit
about being Civil

No, I won’t.
I refuse.”

Honesty has never felt so brave, so real, so artistic to me before I read I WANTED TO BE THE KNIFE. Sutterlin is less of a writer than a modern day alchemist, imbuing the colloquial and mundane with emotional resonance. Perhaps most importantly, her writing is able to remind us that we all matter, that we’re all important.