Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Tattooed Poets Project: A Hand for Joy Harjo


Our last tattoo for National Poetry Month comes to us from the wonderful poet Joy Harjo.

I was surprised, to be honest, when Joy agreed to participate, because she seemed so busy. Despite the exchange of messages from her, aside from her permission to be a part of the project, I didn't get a lot of detail about the piece she offered. Fortunately for me and, by extension, Tattoosday readers, she has a website and an explanation about the tattoo there. I am reprinting it here:

The tattoo on my hand is a tattoo. It’s not henna. The style is from the Marquesas Islands. The Marquesas are north of Tahiti.
Roonui, a Tahitian artist, did the tattoo freehand in Moorea, Tahiti. He is now living in Canada. It took two-and-a-half hours. (And yes, it hurt.)
I’d seen the tattoo there on my hand for sometime. The tattoo represents assistance for my work. I use my hands for music, writing, and everything else I do. The tattoo reminds me of the levels of assistance. I am also carrying a beautiful piece of art with me wherever I go.
Roonui says: "Polynesian tattooing is not a simple exercise in aesthetics. Polynesian carve into their body the symbols of their actions (past present or future), their promises, their games."
The part inside my wrist, close to my heart, resembles ancestral designs of my tribal people.
I encourage readers to explore Joy's website (linked above) and to head over to BillyBlog to read one of her poems here.

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