May 17, 2016

Spotlight: Sara Sutterlin

Discussing objects and influence with poet Sara Sutterlin. 

When I was in the sixth grade, my family took my first trip to Europe – when I was 11, no matter what country on the continent we were traveling to it was referenced to as ‘Europe’, as if it was one undivided mass of land surrounded by a handful of oceans. I remember visiting an archaic seeming museum with my family and seeing a cell phone, albeit an old one, behind the glass among a copious amount of rocks and other paraphernalia. I had no idea what the significance of these rocks was or why this cell phone deserved to be on display, but I did not doubt the museum’s curatorial choice. I decided that these objects must be meaningful, so I went about attempting to pry the meaning from them, rather than questioning.

The way I approached these objects in the sixth grade – respectfully and with a close eye – is similar to how I approach Sara Sutterlin’s poetry.  Her work is scattered with references to objects, like crushed velvet dresses, craft beer and the vague ‘tender object’ mentioned in her poem 1995. Reading about these objects within the context of her poems weighs them down with the emotional weight she attributes to them, relieving them of the personal connections I’d be prompted to give them when removed from the shelter of her words. Sara Sutterlin has two published poetry books, I Wanted To Be The Knife, and Baveuse. An extended edition of I Wanted To Be The Knife will be released with Metratron in June. Aside from solo work Sara curated the anthology, ‘What Kind of Trouble, and is the founding editor of Leste Mag. I talked to Sara about her work on these various projects, as well as her use of objects within her work. 

collaboration textile poetry by
 Mercedez Morin and Sara Sutterlin
The Le Sigh: Your poetry often references objects. Can you explain your perception of the relationship between emotions and material objects?

Sara Sutterlin: Objects witness everything, I like that. For me it is more about the object as audience.

TLS: How do you see the relationship between visuals and poetry in your work? Do you get inspiration from specific artists? 

SS: I’m mostly influenced by spaces, objects, colors. I wouldn't say there is any artist in particular that influences me more than anyone else. I know this is some kind of interview ritual, you list out a bunch of people who sound cool, but to answer this honestly, it's very rarely people.

TLS: In 2014 you released an anthology with 34 women writers called 'What Kind of Trouble?’. What did you learn through this project, or since, that informs your work on Leste?

SS: That was very fun and it helped me learn that I like to collaborate with people, that I can handle big projects. I love a challenge, and the only self care I practice is working and keeping busy. 

TLS: What sparked the creation of Leste Mag?

SS: I was just thinking of things I love, like erotic thrillers and long interviews and other people's private lives. I just wanted to create something that reflected the people I know, the sex I know, the sex I don't know. I wanted to mix both high and low culture and just do whatever. Magazines too often turn into circle jerks, the same people, the same shit. It was tempting to try something different.

TLS: Is there a specific reason why you chose to make Leste print rather than online? 

SS: I don't know. Maybe it's because I'm not a consumer, a reader of online magazines. I mean, I do, but like, I'll always prefer having a print copy. I'm deeply nostalgic for magazines, I was very fond of them growing up.

You can follow Sara on Twitter here and view her website here

Written by Rachel Davies