Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Tattooed Poets Project: Sarah Cook

Today's tattooed poet is Sarah Cook who has a literary tattoo on her ribs:


Sarah tells us:
"This tattoo was done about a year ago, for my 28th birthday, by Jacob Hanks, who tattoos both in Portland, OR and out here at his smaller shop in The Dalles [Hanks Family Tattoo Co].
The line is from Anne Sexton's 'Hurry Up Please It's Time,' a poem that slays me with every single reading. My first relationship with Anne--high school years--felt traditional. I read her early stuff (Bedlam, All My Pretty Ones), and her confrontation of  'hard' subjects became a place of permission for me. I mean I can probably quote from Love Poems if put on the spot.
I grew out of her work as I developed my relationships with more contemporary writers and poetics, and then I came back to her and found entire new worlds of appreciation--the beautiful frenzied thinking she can accomplish within a sentence. Her later stuff, including what's been published after her death, is more patient, much sadder, more directly suspicious of god in a way that prevents her from ever setting god down.
She says, 'Abundance is scooped from abundance, / yet abundance remains.' It's a way to keep living."
Sarah also shared the following poem, which is from a longer series called Field Poems:


I wish I could look the field directly in the face but I’m forever below it



or rather, the field lacks
eye contact &
when feeling brave stares
straight in the direction of
possible love
& assumes
magic
with every face
that doesn’t look
away, i mean   it learned          at a young age              how to hesitate, this field

*

yr car is
a woman but yr man
is a house
                                                            just because yr outsides look like this

*

the quiet
field mistakes silence
for solitude & sets up
its own car insurance
policy commits to
walking everywhere
remains ignorant
of its
celebrity stronghold

*

it’s hard not
to fall in some
kind of lovespace
with every un-
hesitant pair of
eyeballs if you
see something, say
something                                like this field                i just can’t look away
                                                so         grass*belly*grass         there
                                                i said it

*

there’s nothing
between us at any
given moment but
clothes how
embarrassing
to go from
person to body
just like
that

*

misread “bruised”
as “buried” &
thought what’s
the difference

the weather isn’t fake
just controlled

& the field is just
far enough away
to not yet be thinking

about coming back

~ ~ ~


Sarah Cook is a poet. She lives in Oregon.

Thanks to Sarah for sharing her tattoo and poem with us here on Tattoosday's Tattooed Poets Project!


This entry is ©2016 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.


If you are reading this on another website other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.blogspot.com and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Tattooed Poets Project: Alex Giardino

Our next tattooed contributor, Alex Giardino, identified herself to me more as a translator than a poet, but one needs a poetic sense to be able to translate successfully, in my opinion, so she was in. Not to mention, her tattoo is a poem fragment by Kazim Ali, who not only has appeared on the Tattooed Poets Project before (originally here), but has been a wonderful help this past month referring me to other tattooed poets (and translators).

Check out her tattoo:


Alex shared the following with us, as well:

~ ~ ~
Escaping the Labyrinth

Tattoos, for me, are thunder strikes. They are conceived in a single moment of electric clarity. Like love at first sight. That was how I felt when I heard Kazim Ali read his poem “The Escape” in Napa one warm spring evening in 2014.  

As Kazim stood before a crowd and read these lines, “Finally free of the labyrinth and overhead nothing but sky,” I felt a jolt of clarity. These lines must be printed across my right shoulder.

But, first, there was the labyrinth, a tattoo I had done in Mexico City in December 1996 at a studio somewhere in the Colonia Roma. It was my first tattoo: an image I stole from the cover of Octavio Paz’s book The Labyrinth of Solitude.  I hadn’t read much of the book, and yet I was utterly familiar with his argument, especially this line, “Man is nostalgia and a search for communion. Therefore, when he is aware of himself he is aware of his lack of another, that is, of his solitude.”[1] I had been living in Mexico for several months, unable to speak Spanish, in a failing relationship and often wandering alone down ancient streets. The tattoo would be my reminder of that time, when I felt trapped in a labyrinth of solitude. Despite twice being redone, the tattoo eventually became a dollar-coin-sized indigo blur on my left shoulder.

Flash forward to that warm 2014 evening, eighteen years later, when I was listening to Kazim read. By now, I had been freed of that sense of isolation and loneliness I felt in Mexico because I had found communion with other writers and with my own writing. Now, there was Kazim, a poet-teacher, reading before me and his boyfriend Marco, my fellow MFA student, sitting next to me--both of them a part of my extended writing community. 

The thunder strike: I am free of that labyrinth, and to mark that awareness, a tattoo of Kazim’s words.

I waited a few months, until my birthday in late August, to have the tattoo done, a gift to myself to mark 48 years. It was inked at Spider Murphy’s in San Rafael, California. Waiting those few months to have the tattoo done gave me time to think about my understanding of Kazim’s lines and of the myth of Icarus and Daedalus that inspired them.

That myth tells us that creation cannot exist without destruction. The artist knows this. Invention for invention’s sake is not enough. Sacrifices must be made, and consequences faced. “To create a beautiful, well-wrought sculpture from a block of stone, one must destroy all the other possibilities inherent in the stone.”[2] When one story is told, a thousand others are not.

As I walked out of Spider Murphy’s with Kazim’s words on my shoulder, I wondered: What do I make now of the open sky above?

I choose stories to write every day, aware of the sacrifices and consequences of telling them.



[1] Octavio Paz, The Labyrinth of Solitude (New York: Grove Press, 1961), 195.
[2] Kristopher James Ide, “The Daedalus of History and Myth: The Meaning of Creation in Literature from Homer to Joyce” (Honors Thesis, Dept. of Comparative Literature, UC Davis, 2011), p. 30.

~ ~ ~

Alex chose to share all of Kazim's poem, from Sky Ward (Wesleyan 2013), with his permission, below.

The Escape

Father whose purpose swims
while the universe mends itself

Wind was water
porpoise was prophet

Father my swim
the sutured eventual blue splinters

Seed planter, hedonist
heathen when the unwise son fell to pieces

Purposeless when the father
flew for cover

The cloven will cleave
the water finishes itself, finishes me

Stream unreeling, you are
the end of the world, an endless horizon

It’s a sham, this charnel-choice
between heaven and home

Finally free of the labyrinth
and overhead nothing but sky

~ ~ ~

Alex Giardino is a writer, translator, and teacher living in the Bay Area. She received an MA from Mills College and an MFA from the Stonecoast Program at the University of Southern Maine. Her work has appeared in various publications and on air. She translated My Life with Pablo Neruda and is now at work on several picture books for children. More about her work can be found at alexgiardino.com.

Kazim Ali is a poet, essayist, fiction writer, and translator. His books include The Far Mosque, The Fortieth Day, BrightFelon, and Sky Ward He teaches creative writing and comparative literature at Oberlin. His website is kazimali.com.

Thanks to Alex for sharing her words and her tattoo with us here on Tattoosday! Thanks also to Kazim for inspiring the tattoo and for his continued support of the Tattooed Poets Project!

This entry is ©2016 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the authors' permission.

If you are reading this on another website other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.blogspot.com and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Tattooed Poets Project: Kait Burrier

Every year I feature at least one poet who I've met face-to-face and talked tattoos. This year, it's Kait Burrier, who I met last July at the NYC Poetry Festival on Governor's Island.

Kait posed for this photo for me:


Here's a closer look:


Kait explained the origins of this tattoo:
"Brittany, France is covered in triskels. Scranton, PA artist Mike Frenchko, formerly of Slingin' Ink and now at Electric City Tattoo, drew up my tattoo after I'd shown him a few images of this Celtic symbol. My tattoo brings me back to Quéven, a dreamy Breton seaside town with an incredible theater community that taught me about craft, communication, gratitude, and the tragicomedy of the human condition. They gave me a souvenir clown nose, but I've misplaced it; a tattoo seemed harder to lose."
Kait shared the following poem, which she wrote "in response to the William Carlos Williams poem The Young Housewife, reimagining a different scenario for his poem's subject." It appeared previously both in a zine printed by the Breaking Ground Poets and online at Inknode.

The Young Homeowner
after William Carlos Williams

When it is warm enough to strip
plastic seals from window sills
she will allow the sun
to dress her.
Neighbors will just
have to deal
with her nipples.

~ ~ ~

Kait Burrier writes poetry, drama, and to-do lists. Since moving to New York City in 2014, she has facilitated workshops, shared her work at local venues and in college classrooms, founded and hosted Union Square Slam, co-hosted At the Inkwell reading series, volunteered with Out of the Binders, Inc, wrote as artist in residence at Lemons Brook Farm, and worked in publishing, bookselling, and as a freelancer. She holds a M.F.A. (Wilkes University, ’14) and received the 2013 Wilkes-Etruscan Press prize. Visit www.kaitburrier.com for updates and publications.

Thanks to Kait for sharing her tattoo and poem with us here on the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!

This entry is ©2016 Tattoosday.

If you are seeing this on another website other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.blogspot.com and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Tattooed Poets Project: Chip Livingston

Our next tattooed poet is Chip Livingston, who shared several pieces with us:

Chip's Tarot cards, Ace of Coins and Ace of Cups

La Sirena fresh and Jack of Clubs, part of spiral

Lila tattoos Chip's Sirena at Rock City Tattoos in Barre, Vermont
Chip tells us:
"Seeking to remember the advantages I might carry into any situation, I had Lila at Rock City Tattoos (in Barre, Vermont) put these 'cards up my sleeve.' The Jack of Clubs represents 'the man in the woodwork,' the secret admirer working on my behalf without my knowledge. The Ace of Cups represents abundance of emotional resources; the Ace of Coins represents abundance of physical resources. La Sirena from the Mexican Loteria reminds me of Iemanja, the goddess of the sea, who nurtures me in many ways. And with those charms under my skin, I feel prepared for anything. Above the cards on the right shoulder is a rough spiral, from the Egyptian hieroglyph for the verb 'to be.' And around the left bicep is a feather armband to represent my Creek heritage."
Chip sent us the following poem, “To Remove Anger” from his book CROW-BLUE, CROW-BLACK (New York Quarterly Books, 2012):

TO REMOVE ANGER

That man of black wood, that man with the blankets, give him a place to rest his
thundering headspin. Let him see an all-red man removing the venom from the
spider. Remaking tobacco with his right hand. To pacify the coiled serpent.

That man of black wood, that man with the blankets, wrap him a stick of red cedar
and build him a fire to heat the rocks he carries. Offer those stones creek water and
watch them crack into jewels. Help him dig a cave under the wet roots of a cypress
tree. Help him bury them.

That man of black wood, that man with the blankets, make him a supper of sofkee
and sweetcorn, roast him the red fish you call from the river, feed him ripe
scuppernongs picked with your fingers.

That man of black wood, that man with the blankets, remind him he is a kinsman, a
red man, a great wizard united with another great wizard, to fail in nothing.
Remake tobacco with the left hand in a counterclockwise direction.

~ ~ ~

Chip Livingston is the author of two poetry collections, CROW-BLUE, CROW-BLACK (NYQBooks, 2012) and MUSEUM OF FALSE STARTS (Gival Press, 2010), and a short story/essay collection, NAMING CEREMONY (Lethe Press, 2014). His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, New American Writing, and on the Poetry Foundation’s and the Academy of American Poets’ websites. Chip teaches in the low-rez MFA program at Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM, and at Regis University’s Mile High MFA in Denver, CO. Visit chiplivingston.com.


Thanks to Chip Livingston for sharing his poem and tattoos with us here on the Tattooed Poets Project!

This entry is ©2016 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.

If you are reading this on another website other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.blogspot.com and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

D. Gilson's Typewriter (The Tattooed Poets Project)

Today's Tattooed Poet is D. Gilson, who shared this photo with a glimpse of a pretty cool tattoo:


Knowing Tattoosday readers would want a better glimpse of the work (the photo is cool but the half typewriter doesn't really showcase the ink), Gilson complied with my request for a better photo of the tattoo, with a bit of humor:


D. Gilson explained that "this typewritter is the one Frank O’Hara used to write Lunch Poems, which is the book that made me want to become a writer more than any other." He credited Nathan Mould at Artisan Tattoo Gallery in Pittsburgh with the work.

He also shared this poem, which comes from the book Crush, with Will Stockton:

At the Bathhouse, Scholars Discuss The Oceanic Feeling

A Miltonist and a Poet walk into a steamroom.
The Miltonist says, I want to watch you fuck him.

The Poet does not hear this because the Miltonist
does not say this. But the Poet knows this truth.

Freud says it’s natural we long to see ourselves
as one with the world. That the ego has a way

of denying dangers it sees in threat of this desire.
The Poet will claim he does not want to possess

the Miltonist. A typewriter drips on his enjambed
chest as the Poet fucks a man for the Miltonist.

What these two boys know is especially this: perhaps
everyone wants to be desired for possession. Satan

heaves on the arm of the Miltonist as he watches
the Poet fuck. Their tattoos, a permanent possession

under the dim wattage of steamroom fluorescents.
I watch you finish and finish myself, wipe the sweat

from my eyes, the past from my feet, as we leave.

~ ~ ~

D. Gilson is the author of I Will Say This Exactly One Time: Essays (Sibling Rivalry, 2015); Crush (Punctum Books, 2014), with Will Stockton; Brit Lit (Sibling Rivalry, 2013); and Catch & Release (2012), winner of the Robin Becker Prize. He is Assistant Professor of English at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and his work has appeared in PANKThe Indiana ReviewThe Rumpus, and as a notable essay in Best American Essays. Find him at dgilson.com.



Thanks to D. Gilson for sharing his poem and tattoo with us here on Tattoosday's Tattooed Poets Project!

This entry is ©2016 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.

If you are reading this on another website other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.blogspot.com and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Tattooed Poets Project: Ruth Awad

In 2012, the poet Traci Brimhall said I had to talk to Ruth Awad. Ruth has a lot of tattoos and she is a damn fine poet. Ruth and I have emailed back and forth for four years (and in the mean time, at least a dozen other poets said, "Ruth is tattooed!"). Well, the planets finally aligned in 2016 and I am happy to have Ruth and her work appearing on The Tattooed Poets Project.


We don't get a lot of fully-sleeved poets, so let's just take a moment and look at all of the details in this work:






Ruth calls this her "poppy fox bunny sleeve" and credits Roger Ziegler, owner of  Bomber Crew Tattoo in Carbondale, Illinois. She adds that Roger "has a real talent for creating depth and detail with color, and he's one of the few artists who isn't my mother who has tattooed me."

Now, check out this lovely tattoo:


This is Ruth's "disco watercolor bear." She elaborates:
"Like nearly all of my tattoos, this one was done by my mother Deborah Stevenson. She used to run her own tattoo shop and art gallery in East Nashville, Tennessee, and I hope she opens another shop one day. She's incredible, and I'm not just saying that because I'm her daughter."
I'd have to agree her work is remarkable.

Next up are these swallows:


Ruth tell us:
"These are about a decade old now and could use a touch up. Anyway, Marty, the tattoo artist who trained my mom, did the swallow under my right collarbone as a kind of test for her when she was an apprentice – she had to make the left one match his (she did a fine job, too). Marty died a few years ago – it's interesting to think about a tattoo artist's work outliving them in this very literal way in someone's skin."
Readers following the site this month may recall that Katie Riegel's tattoo (here) was done by Ruth. A poet and a tattooist! Well check these cardinals out:


Ruth tells us:
"I tattooed these birds on my own ankle a few years ago. I was probably bored, and I immediately regretted the decision after I tattooed the first line – it was a hard pose to maintain! Wouldn't do that again, but I'm pretty happy with the result." 
Not bad for tattooing oneself, I must admit.

Ruth also chose to share the following poem, which isn't tattoo-related, but she's "still particularly fond of" it. It previously appeared in Diode:

Shame, Abridged 


Walk a circle of salt
around the bed. A handful 
of leaves or feathers.
This is how we hide 
every moment we lived in the ground.

~

When shame becomes your phantom hand that digs its nails into its fist.
When you move it like a muscle just to feel your skin tighten.
I was thirteen. I stood calf-high in meadow grass. Two high school boys,
counting each pixel of flesh as I peeled the fabric from my body.
Become a worse animal. Let your quills pin their eager hands to the dirt.

~

Here, my armor: a plate of bone beneath my breasts
and your weight on top of it. Your wife and kid waited at home.
But I could feel them, too.
The ceiling fan, turning and turning over,
always above you.

~

I am the yarrow at your heel, leave your starved with me.

~

Your chest rising the way a bow draws an arrow.
I want to teach this song
to the children we won’t make.

~

A lover said, You can’t make me fall in love with you
and just leave. It was like in the movies. What power
tastes like: knowing I could have him, even then.
How that one-room apartment with no AC
in the dead of summer made his skin wet,
made me want to see just how cold I could be.

~

I’m trying out what it means to be a woman
and take out the world with one bite.
Out of the garden and into the bog.

~

I am awake as any animal
under the star-wheeled night.
My skin a red slip
I could slick from my back
and start over
if I don’t get in my own way.

~

Behind the screen, vines cursive the names of ghosts,
the faucet beads into the basin.
Be the space between each drip.  
In the kitchen his calloused hand pins my thigh.  

I don’t want to be held that way,
but the body is already bones and dirt.
You can bury it anywhere.


~ ~ ~

Ruth Awad has an MFA in poetry from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The NewRepublic, The Missouri Review Poem of the Week, Atticus Review, Crab Orchard Review, CALYX, Diode, Southern Indiana Review, Rattle, The Adroit Journal, Vinyl Poetry, Epiphany, The Drunken Boat, and in the anthologies The Hundred Years' War: Modern War Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2014), New Poetry from the Midwest 2014 (New American Press, 2015), and Poets on Growth (Math Paper Press, 2015). She won the 2013 and 2012 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize and the 2011 Copper Nickel Poetry Contest, and she was a finalist for the 2013 Ruth Lily Fellowship. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and two Pomeranians.

Thanks to Ruth for sharing her poem and her amazing tattoos with us here on Tattoosday's Tattooed Poets Project!

This entry is ©2016 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoos are reprinted with the poet's permission.

If you are reading this on another website other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.blogspot.com and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Tattooed Poets Project: Richard Foerster

When we launched the month with Lee Sharkey's tattoo, I received an email from one of her fellow Maine poets, Richard Foerster, with the following picture attached:


Well, you just don't send me a picture of an awesome tattoo and leave it at that, so I thanked him for the photo and formally invited him to participate in this year's offering of tattooed poets. And Richard was kind enough to oblige with the following explanation:
"Cephalopods have fascinated me since I first saw them in aquariums—how they can camouflage themselves by instantly changing color, how they can change shape to appear large and aggressive or to squeeze themselves down to hide in tight spaces, how they use jet propulsion and can zip away in a cloud of ink. And they are intelligent: I once read about an octopus in a tank at a research lab. The staff were puzzled by the nightly disappearance of fish from another tank across the room. So they set up video surveillance and were surprised to see the octopus lift the lid on its tank, crawl down and across the floor, then up into the fish tank where it enjoyed a midnight snack before crawling back to its own tank. There’s something admirable about that stealthy intelligence and cunning instinct to survive.
I’ve nine tattoos (thus far) and like to think of them as guardian totems. The octopus is one of my spirit animals. I worked with the very talented Jeremiah Loui (Instagram here) at Iron Works Tattoo in Portsmouth, NH  to design this upper chest and shoulder piece for my right side to counterbalance a large tribal moko on my left. We worked from photos I found on the Internet. My only stipulation was that the design be colorful, massive, realistic, and 'non-threatening.' Jeremiah achieved exactly what I had envisioned. The tattoo was completed in about 10 hours over the course of three sessions."
Richard also kindly shared the following poem, the subject of which he says will "probably" serve as a model for his next tattoo:

Moon Jellyfish

Aurelia aurita

No planet could keep so many moons in tow.
They drift, constantly unconstellating
around you in their milky way. Even to want

to cradle one in your palm would compromise
their elegance: the opaque domes
are stippled with a compass rose and trail,

like auroras, fine voluted veils. Gravity
would spell their deaths. Voiceless, blind,
they seem oracular—mouths and eyes

fixed since the first pulse of the world’s womb
on a source beyond orbits of perception. To swim
among them is to float as if in the pure We are

that scorched the oceans into life. Watch
how your mere expended breath, on its own
celestial path, must break into their midst.

~ ~ ~

The poem above appeared in The Burning of Troy (BOA Editions, 2006). Copyright © 2006 by Richard Foerster. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Richard Foerster was born in the Bronx, New York, and holds degrees in English literature from Fordham College and the University of Virginia. He is the author of seven poetry collections, most recently River Road (Texas Review Press, 2015). Foerster has been the recipient of numerous honors, including the “Discovery”/The Nation Award, Poetry magazine’s Bess Hokin Prize, a Maine Arts Commission Fellowship, the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, and two National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowships. Since the 1980s, his work has appeared widely in magazines and anthologies, including The Best American Poetry. He has worked as a lexicographer, educational writer, typesetter, teacher, and editor of the literary magazines Chelsea and Chautauqua Literary Journal. For the last 30 years, he has lived on the coast of southern Maine.

Visit his page on Amazon here.


Thanks to Richard for sharing his awesome tattoo and poem with us here on Tattoosday's Tattooed Poets Project!

This entry is ©2016 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.

If you are reading this on another website other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.blogspot.com and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.