Home » Newpages Blog » Brick Books

Book Review :: A knife so sharp its edge cannot be seen by Erin Noteboom

A knife so sharp its edge cannot be seen by Erin Noteboom book cover image

Guest Post by Jami Macarty

In A knife so sharp its edge cannot be seen, Erin Noteboom positions readers on the fine line between the “sting and sweetness” of “lives in depth and distance.” This is a poet interested in demarcations and definitions, where memory meets metaphor, perspective meets specifics, and recombination implies structure. The poet repeatedly flips a coin, showing readers one side, then the other, revealing the enigma where one concept begins and another ends. Within the poems, the mysteriously undefinable is proximal to the scientifically discoverable. Wilhelm Röntgen, who developed X-rays, and Marie Curie, who discovered radium and polonium, are among the scientists Noteboom’s poems present to readers. The poems, like these scientists, are focused on the interplay between light, shadow, and darkness that permits new, profound, and various forms of seeing, as “the eye is lighthouse.” Such a quest for “the sensation of light” and the “struggle for another label” inevitably has a cost. “For such a cost, there must be benefit / that is the equation of science,” writes Noteboom, who determines as a writer, “I want to use my life up / like a pencil. I want to eat stone and leave behind / the shell of a word I live inside, / something open.” Noteboom’s poetry examines “the cost / of the beauty. The beauty of the cost.” The poems mark readers with their exploration of science’s brilliance, life’s radiance, and what it is “to write at the end of the world.”

A knife so sharp its edge cannot be seen by Erin Noteboom. Brick Books, April 2023.

Reviewer bio: Jami Macarty is the author of The Minuses (Center for Literary Publishing, 2020), winner of the 2020 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award – Poetry Arizona, and three chapbooks, including Mind of Spring (Vallum, 2017), winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award. Jami’s writing has been honored by financial support from Arizona Commission on the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, and by editors at magazines such as The Capilano Review, Concision Poetry Journal, Interim, Redivider, Vallum, and Volt, where Jami’s poems appear. More at https://jamimacarty.com/