Baveuse by Sara Sutterlin
Electric Cereal, 2015
84 pages – Electric Cereal
Once, a high school boyfriend told me I had a dark heart. He meant this as an insult intended to sting, and at the time, it did. But it also did something else: banded me with others who have been told by lovers, parents, friends, and even themselves, that some part of them is rancid, spoiled.
Every poem in Sara Sutterlin’s Baveuse is a testament that this rottenness should not be shamed; it is part of us, and it should be celebrated. Baveuse is even dedicated “to all /women who wear their darkness proudly / and speak it, too.” That’s me.
I should be honest: I am coming to Baveuse as a human who is wet, drooling, dripping; arrogant, cocky, cheeky against authority. And perpetually hungry. What I’m saying is this book feels like it was written specifically for me.
But I truly believe if you don’t want to eat, it doesn’t really matter. You will find yourself ravenous and consumed by the gut-punching beauty of Sutterlin’s words: “Sometimes eating makes you / hungrier / like violence / and love.” Absolutely.
I found myself thinking that a lot while reading this collection because these poems are filled with the raw, imagistic, tight language I crave. After you read them, a sweet stickiness remains. “I am ripe / I am disgusting / I am juicy / I am your prize.”
And back to the celebration: Sutterlin’s poems are themselves parties. Sometimes peopled, sometimes only with one in attendance, every poem is an occasion for remembering that we are never alone and that all of us are extremely complex creatures. Don’t we all have the capacity for kindness, for confrontation, for duplicity?
Baveuse is the gift Sutterlin is brining to the party you’re thinking of attending. Go. You’ll be less lonely, feel full.
Elizabeth Schmuhl is a writer and interdisciplinary artist whose work has been published in Big Lucks, Metatron, Michigan Quarterly Review, PANK, and elsewhere. Her full-length book, Presto Agitato: A Dictionary of Modern Movement, is out from Zoo Cake Press. She also illustrates essays for The Rumpus. Find her online at elizabethschmuhl.com