Welcome to another installment of the Tattooed Poets Project!

This will be our sixth April celebrating National Poetry Month with a month full of tattooed poets’ work – both written and corporeal. Every day this month at 3:00 AM EDT, we will post a tattoo (or two) belonging to a poet, along with a sample of their work. Because interest has been unprecedented this
year, most days we will post TWO poets, with the second one appearing at 3:00 PM EDT. If you are a published poet interested in contributing, we will be featuring additional tattooed poets weekly, starting in May, or you can volunteer now for 2015. Please email tattoosday@gmail.com for details. And please, everyone, enjoy April on Tattoosday and thank you for visiting!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Grace's Tattoo: Anita Berber, in the Service of Poetry


On Wednesday, April 23, New York City simmered in pre-summer warmth and, while my camera was at the park with the wife and kids, I was stuck at work.

Co-worker Cecelia (tattoo-less, as far as I know) was kind enough to lend me her Canon and, during lunch, I met a young woman named Grace who had the extremely interesting piece (above) on the back of her neck.

Grace explained: the woman is Anita Berber, who was, in her words, "a cabaret whore lady in the '20's".

The quote, "life in the service of poetry" is an abbreviated version of the fuller quote "life in the service of poetry is a life not wasted". Grace attributed the quote to Berber, who came across it in an interview with Jack Terricloth, lead singer of the cabaret/punk band The World/Inferno Friendship Society. My research is unable to come up with the exact quote in the context of the interview, but that's beside the point. The sentiment is dead on.

Grace, a student at Fashion Institute of Technology, explained further that the quote is not literally interpreted by her, but that she regards it more generally: "Living for whatever you think is beautiful," whether it be poetry, or some other form of artistic expression.

This tattoo (one of Grace's two pieces) was inked by Nick Males at Silk City Tattoo in Hawthorne, New Jersey.

Thanks to Grace for sharing Ms. Berber with Tattosday!

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