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!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Tattooed Poets Project: Debbie Kirk

I always like to finish up the Tattooed Poets Project on a strong note, so today's tattooed poet, the last of this year's series, is the heavily-tattooed poet Debbie Kirk.


It also happens to be Debbie's birthday today, as we check out one of her tattoos. More specifically, let's look at the top of her left arm:



This piece, complete with straight razor, brass knuckles and cherry bomb, bears a banner that proclaims "Bow to your elders, you Emo Fucks."

I mean, what more can I say about that?

In discussing which tattoo of Debbie's to use, this exchange took place:

Tattoosday: "I hesitate to use the emo one because of the language and because I'm sure people will not understand why you would get it, but that makes me want to use it more".

Debbie: "its a favorite with peeps...it has been declared the sexiest tattoo ever..."

Tattoosday: "I love tattoos but they are generally so benign nowadays, so it's nice to see one with a true fuck-all attitude."

Debbie: "Yeah, that defines me what you said right there....and why I got the tattoo. I think that single tattoo is the most ME. I can be a bit honest...which is why people like my poetry."

Where'd she get the tattoo? Debbie recalls " I just remember I got it in Venice 5 years ago from a girl who proposed to me when I told her my idea...I still tell that story. I KNEW it was good with that reaction and she was hot."
 
Debbie gave us several poems to choose from, and the one we selected, she says, is very representative of her work:


Little Frankenstein girl
 
Little Frankenstein girl
has the hands of a pianist
And the heart of a broken organ
With thorns, glass
Bats and Indian ink
Seeping thro…
Sewn together
Crookedly stitched
Like a pastel valentine heart
Filled with mismatched parts

Little Frankenstein girl
Has the right brain of a killer
Her right hand is dominant
While her left foot always faces away
Wanting to disconnect
To run
To be free

To not be part of this
Fucked up experiment
Dreamt up by
A genius dressed in rags
And chased by demons
The kind that really scratch and bite
When you are fast asleep

Little Frankenstein girl
Is not a little girl anymore
The curls in her hair
Dreaded up in the sun
Medusa in the wind

Her loud strong voice
Muffled under the stitches
That firmly binds her lips together
Bondage bringing pleasure
Only to those who wish
To keep her silent
(and they are many)

The little Frankenstein girl
Can’t count the stitches on her wrists
From all of those nights
With her right hand doing
What her left foot
Wanted to walk away from
And her not understanding
That she was never really alive
In the first place

Little Frankenstein girl
All mixed up
And
Mix matched
Returning every evening
With fresh wounds to be sewn
From another vain attempt
To be mortal for just a few seconds
Before the fall

Little Frankenstein girl
Stolen parts
Come with stolen lies
Maggots and flies.
The gravedigger, looking to make a buck
Steals her a kiss
The moistness quenches her lips
He promises more kisses tomorrow
She scurries home
Knowing full well
She’s damned to a life of stolen kisses
And malfunctioning hearts
that spit in the moonlight.

~ ~ ~
Debbie Kirk has published 6 chapbooks and been in 12 anthologies and hundreds of print and online zines. She lives in Santa Cruz with her dog Dr. Gonzo.  She has a website she rarely updates at tntkirk.com but she can be best located lurking around Facebook!  Also check out http://tntkirk.com/.

Thanks to Debbie for sharing her tattoo and poetry with us here as we close out the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday. Also, we wish her a very happy birthday today!

This entry is ©2011 Tattoosday. The poem is reprinted here with the permission of the author.

If you are reading this on another web site 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, 2011

The Tattooed Poets Project: Lizzie Wann

Here, on the penultimate day of the Tattooed Poets Project, our contributor is Lizzie Wann:


Lizzie explains:
As I came into my poetic self in college, I knew I wanted a tattoo to symbolize that. My friend, Kevin, designed it for me and I carried it with me for a while. For spring break in 1993 or 1994, I went to Seattle with 4 of my best friends at the time. We happened into a cool tattoo shop and 4 of us got our first tattoos (the 5th person didn’t want one).It was great because we each got something that symbolized who we were at the moment but also who we hoped to be in the future.
Here's a closer look at this quill and ink bottle tattoo:



Lizzie shared this poem, as well:

Grace
she lives here with me
but she comes & goes as she pleases

never tells me where she’s going
never leaves a note

it’s typical that she’ll come in
just as I’m falling asleep

I catch glimpses of her sometimes
usually when there’s music

we used to be inseparable
I didn’t think she’d ever leave

now, daily happenings of my life
rarely interest her

but sometimes they do
and she’ll spend time with me

when that happens
I remember how good it feels

her company is like an avalanche of
warm towels out of the dryer

I could stay there all day

© 2010 Lizzie Wann

Lizzie Wann started reading at open mics in 1995. She soon became an integral part of the development of the San Diego poetry scene, facilitating workshops at the Writing Center, creating her own readings and producing original shows that featured poets and musicians. She earned a spot on the 1999 Laguna Beach national slam team that competed at the National Poetry Slam in Chicago of that year, and from there, helped make slam poetry become a San Diego fixture. She was on the 2000 San Diego team that went to the West Coast Regionals in Big Sur, served as coach for that same team in 2002, and co-hosted the fledgling San Diego slam, held at the Urban Grind, until 2003. Her work appears on CDs (A Wing & A Prayer and A New Leaf), in chapbooks including Familiars, Naked Wrists, and Complicated Skies and in anthologies including Comstock Review, Incidental Buildings & Accidental Beauty, A Year in Ink, volume 2, So Luminous the Wildflowers, The San Diego Poetry Annual, and Don’t Blame the Ugly Mug.  She also founded the Meeting Grace house concert series which ran from 2000-2008. One of her CD’s can be found at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/lizziewann.

Thanks to Lizzie for sharing her tattoo and poem with us here on Tattoosday!


This entry is ©2011 Tattoosday. The poem is reprinted here with the permission of the author.

If you are reading this on another web site 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, 2011

The Tattooed Poets Project: Gerry LaFemina

Today's tattooed poet is Gerry LaFemina. Gerry put together a narrative about his ink, which makes my job easier, and gives us a detailed view of his tattoos. Let's see what he has to say:
Photo by Joy Gaines-Friedler
"My first tattoo–I was 19, I was a punk rock kid, and I had been thinking about getting a tattoo for some time.  I had had a dream in which I had a tattoo of a skull and crossbones design in which the skull had peace symbols for eyes.  When I was shaving the next morning, I was surprised I didn’t have the tattoo.  So I called up my friend Melody, whose uncle was Tattoo Ray–one of the best tattooists on Staten Island.  She made the appointment and came with me to her uncle’s house.
            In New York at the time (the mid 1980's), tattooing was still illegal: most tattoo artists worked out of their homes and their clientele was through word of mouth.  Ray was pretty famous–and I have met a number of people over the years on Staten island who had work done by Ray. He was funny, sarcastic, and quick-tongued.  I remember asking him about his needles (this was in the midst of the AIDS epidemic) after all and he asked me right back “How clean is your blood?”
             I liked him immediately.  He did the work.  His niece and I talked.  I just remember being surprised how much the tattoo gun sounded like a dentist drill.  The little whine, the humming buzz.
            My second tattoo: I got my senior year in college.  We found somebody in Westchester who did the work in his suburban neighborhood house.  I remember little of the experience.  The tattoo was not the one I wanted: what I had hoped to get – Tigger with a microphone and a mohawk jumping on his tail – I ended up not being able to afford.  Instead: I went with symmetry – and more pirate stuff: a rose with crossed swords above the left bicep.  In hindsight, this tattoo has held up better than Tigger probably would have....
Photo by Joy Gaines-Friedler

            What lasts though are the tattoos I wanted to get but didn’t: After the rose I wanted to get Charlie Chaplin tattooed on me.  I asked several artist friends of mine to make me a design, and I got a few of them, but none of them “worked.”  And for several years I wanted the logo for my old band tattooed somewhere.  But neither happened.
            So I went with two for a long time: but I often thought about getting new ink.  I wrote.  I taught.  I created a program for young writers in northern Michigan called the Controlled Burn Seminar for Young Writers.  I committed 13 years to that project, and after the tenth seminar, I thought I would get its logo – a lit cherry bomb – tattooed on my right forearm.  The logo was important to me: I believe poetry and all art should be a lit cherry bomb.  It should be a potential explosion.  But it should be fun, too.  I looked into it a few times, but I finally made the decision on a lark a few days after my birthday.  I was walking on Carson Street in Pittsburgh – tattoo parlor row.  I liked the name Flying Monkey Tattoo.  So in I went.

            The tattooist was a kid, He could have been one of my students–he was finishing up his apprenticeship and mine was one of his first tattoos.  The seminar after the ink ended up being the last one.  It seemed fitting that the creative writing kids got to see it before the seminar ended.
            And now I’m back to collecting designs: this time, though, I know who’s going to do the tattoos.  The next one will be a Buddha carrying a tattered pirate flag on my back.  These are the two strains of my life.  And I want the MG logo somewhere.  I’ve been driving an MGB for 15 years.  The tattoo is a commitment and the things I am committed too, the things that define me, that continue to define me I want inked on me.  I spend much of my life putting ink on paper.  I think it’s only fitting to have some ink on me, too."
And now, for one of Gerry's poems:
 
Alphabet City
            Avenues A through D, Lower East Side, NYC

After the ambulances left but
before the sun finally rose above Avenue
C, I walked toward Tompkins Square Park where the heroin
dependent rockers slept, addled on benches, while
ex-punks huddled in their leather jackets
for the morning was still damp. One of them called out,

Gerry? What was I to do when I saw her, recognized
her hesitant familiar eyes. How could I have
imagined things would turn out this way when I’d call out her name —
Joanna — those sleepless nights of high school &
kept a photo of her deep into college.
Longing has such a sense of history.

Morning was approaching in its colorful coat.
Not once those months of kissing her, had I wakened beside her, but
oh — I’d wanted to. She was thinner & glanced away when I nodded;
pigeons surrounded her bench but would take off
quickly with the first sudden movement or when the next squad car
revealed itself in flashers & sirens.

So what did I do? What could I do?
The three five dollar bills folded in my pocket, what
use were they to me? I gave them to her, she who’d once been beautiful. How
victorious I’d felt that first time I kissed her.

We didn’t look at each other, nor did we look askance. I thought of the little
xiphoid syringes she might load with that money. This was my sin.
Two young black kids with dreadlocks walked by singing
Zion! Take me back to Zion! & I knew I’d never be saved.

– Gerry LaFemina
from Vanishing Horizon, 2011 Anhinga Press

Gerry LaFemina is the author of seven books of poems, most recently Vanishing Horizon (2011, Anhinga Press) and a collection of short stories.  He directs the Frostburg Center for Creative Writing at Frostburg State University where he also teaches.  He splits his time between Maryland and New York City.


Thanks to Gerry for sharing his tattoos and poetry with us here on Tattoosday!


This entry is ©2011 Tattoosday. The poem is reprinted here with the permission of the author.

If you are reading this on another web site 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, 2011

The Tattooed Poets Project: David Jonathan Newman

Today's tattooed poet is David Jonathan Newman, who sent along this photo:


Dave explains:
"The tattoo is fairly literal; the state of Florida is burning, with the words "Til The Bitter End" aside it.  I moved to Miami for 4 years to pursue a relationship, and saw it out to its unfortunate conclusion.  The tattoo is born out of that experience, and I got it to help me put a finishing stamp on what happened there and what brought me back to Long Island.  None of us are perfect, but we can become stronger people if we have reminders of our mistakes and put them to good use to make sure they don't happen again.  This piece, along with most of the work on my body, was done by Chris Koutsis of Da Vinci Tattoo Studio in Wantagh NY.  I told him exactly what I had in mind, and between my ideas and his talents I was very happy with the outcome."
The following is my favorite of the several poems David sent me to choose from:

hello, atmosphere.

I keep the eyes of a rapist in a jar by my bed
walk lightly
for that part of the room is glass
modern-day sorcerer, am I
blueprints and otherworldly photographs in my drawers
beakers and tubes filled with dust
the cold makes it feel like home
and when the mirror talks to me, it only says
"I will wrap you in a sheet before this night is done."
well so says you, my sweet, but look what you've become
all my furniture, ghosts
rooms rife with other lives
no doors
my paintings are stolen from churches and are hanging backwards and are numbered one to infinity.

~ ~ ~

David Jonathan Newman has been a poet and vocalist/lyricist in bands, both on Long Island, NY and in Miami, FL.  He currently is working on a collection of poetry, writes music as a solo artist and has a blog (http://captainselfdestruct.blogspot.com) where he posts both his solid works and stream of consciousness ideas.  He's been winning poetry contests since 6th grade, and the poem above, "Hello, Atmosphere" won a writing contest at the SUNY College Of Old Westbury which was featured in Harmonia, their on-campus writing publication.

Thanks to David for sharing his tattoo and poem with us here on Tattoosday!


This entry is ©2011 Tattoosday. The poem is reprinted here with the permission of the author.

If you are reading this on another web site 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, 2011

The Tattooed Poets Project: Kimberly Mahler

Today's tattooed poet is Kimberly Mahler, who sent along this tattoo:


Kimberly credits this bright colorful work to artist Erik Rieth, co-owner of Seventh Son Tattoo in San Francisco. The poem below is an unpublished work she is including in a manuscript centered around her raising her 11-year old autistic son, seen in this photo with the tattoo above.


Kimberly included a small photo of the piece in question, as well:


She elaborates:

"The iris was my first tattoo completed in 2007. It was a one session--four hour odyssey of sorts. I had never seen someone get tattooed, and was pondering why Erik was using so much red ink for a purple flower... yep, that was my blood, not ink. Over the years Erik and I developed a friendship and continued work on my shoulder in 2008 and the cherries February 2011.


I know the next one is going to be a large hip/thigh sea dragon piece, but that's a ways off. 

For me to be ready to get a tattoo, three elements have to be in line: my artist Erik has to want and like the idea, I have to be ready (both financially and emotionally) and the time commitment and passion for the design have to be there. When all are in line, it's a magical sort of experience. I give him ideas, he designs the piece and then we get down to work. I couldn't have anyone else do my work now; it just wouldn't be the same. [...] He co-owns a shop in San Francisco that just did a benefit for Japan, raising $7,000. Cool place. http://www.seventhsontattoo.com. Erik and the shop Seven Son Tattoo are both also on Facebook. 

There's definitely a connection between tattooing and writing for me. This is the only poem that I've written that is about tattooing (at least on the surface). However, both writing and getting a tattoo require a leap of sorts: a stepping off of the known. Both require a loss of control which lay the foundation for original art both on the body and the page."
Kimberly Mahler’s recent work has appeared in, 5AM, DMQ Review, My Baby Rides the Short Bus anthology, Naugatuck River Review, The International Psychoanalysis Poetry Monday and Cimarron Review.  She recently received a residency at the Ragdale Foundation in Chicago. Kimberly has taught college-level writing and literature in the San Francisco Bay Area for 17 years and is the director of The International Poetry Library of San Francisco She lives on the coast, a few miles north Half Moon Bay, CA with her son Harrison.

Thanks to Kimberly for sharing her tattoos, poetry and photos with us here on Tattoosday!

This entry is ©2011 Tattoosday. The poem is reprinted here with the permission of the author.

If you are reading this on another web site 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, 2011

The Tattooed Poets Project: Claire Nelson

Well, dear readers, I've been waiting to post this next tattoo for over a year, ever since Dorianne Laux posted it on her Facebook wall last April and directed me to it. This amazing tattoo belongs to Claire Nelson. Behold:

This photo was taken shortly after the tattoo was done by artist Ron Henry Wells, who graciously allowed me to copy it from his site and reprint it here. He noted that he "used a antique typewriter that [he owns] as reference". He was also swift to point out that the picture's not that great, as the curve of Claire's thigh makes the tattoo look a little warped, but he swears it is straight. I would beg to differ, as the photo really captures the beauty of the tattoo and the wonderful artifice of the tattooist.

Claire sent me a newer photo for a slightly different perspective:
 

Claire explains this incredible tattoo:
"I love writing, tattoos and typewriters. When I met with Ron at Anonymous Tattoo in Savannah, Georgia, he seemed as psyched about doing my tattoo as I was about getting it. Ron asked a few simple questions. “How do you feel about birds?” I felt good. “Flowers?” I also had positive feelings about flowers. And then, we were off. Two sessions and some intense pain later, I came out with this amazing tattoo. Writing will always be part of my life, and now so will this tattoo."
Claire also shared this poem: 

Kazoo Serenade

The last nice thing you said to me
was “Your breath smells
like vodka,”
as I hummed at you
through a kazoo.
It was an
original composition;
maybe not
technically perfect—
I wasn’t concerned
with mechanics.
Who needs rules
when there are kazoos in the world?

I did an accompanying jig
on a cracked patch
of sidewalk.
Why is cement
always damp
on summer nights? It made such a
satisfying smack
against my bare-feet,
cool and wet,
like the familiar kiss
of a person I rarely see.

I could have danced circles around you
all night
until we were both too dizzy to know
melody from moment,
beauty from spit and plastic.
Instead, I unbuttoned
the pocket
on your shirt, and slipped the kazoo inside.
I don’t need retrospect
to tell me
you don’t deserve
a kazoo serenade. Oh I wish
it was about deserve
and not desire. 
~ ~ ~
Claire Nelson is a senior Dramatic Writing major at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia. After graduation Claire will be moving to Tallahassee to pursue her M.F.A. in poetry at Florida State University.


As for Ron, he is currently working out of the Boston area, but occasionally is a guest artist at Three Kings Tattoo in Brooklyn.

Thanks to Claire for sharing one of the best tattoos we have seen in this year's Tattooed Poets Project, and for sharing her poetry as well, here on Tattoosday.

This entry is ©2011 Tattoosday. The poem is reprinted here with the permission of the author.

If you are reading this on another web site 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, 2011

The Tattooed Poets Project: Tantra-zawadi

Today, as we enter our final week of this year's Tattooed Poets Project, we are honored to have Tantra-zawadi as our tattooed poet.
Photo by Arnold Browne

Tantra shared the tattoo visible on her right arm:



This tattoo was done by Louis of Third Eye Tattoo in Brooklyn. Tantra explains:
"Swans usually mate for life…Passion is a given in my work and how I love...The inspiration to become a part of something or someone for the duration of the journey is deeply beautiful.  Breathing through the ripples, the illusions, the wounds, the truth, the laughter, the healing and the magic of letting love…Sharing life IS the adventure! My poetry, like the mating of swans has been a part of my consciousness since I was a girl child.  It has grown with me and in me; writing candid love notes on my heart to the groove of house music in my soul!  I am life poetry."

Tantra also shared this tattoo:

Photo by Arnold Browne

On her left shoulder is the line "We make love in the way of the spirit," from her poem "Third Eye Kisses" (Gathered at Her Sky - Poets Wear Prada Publishing 2010).

Tantra shared this poem with us:
Poem for Haiti

Toe nails painted red
Fingernails and
Lips thus stained

I look at her cleanly
Parted scalp
Plaited locks of wisdom
With lavender ribbons
Gathered at her sky

Vibrant energy skirted and
Pleated from waist to ankle
With her hands delicately
Placed upon her chest
One on top of the other
Motionless

She was gentle
(I think) Most likely
Waiting for her groom
for she was a good girl
before she was swallowed

They lay in piles
the brown people tinged gray
and I wonder
if the one with the chocolate hand
was her beloved
Respectfully waiting for his bride

He dreamed of her too
(I think)
b
efore he was swallowed

Butthereweresomany
Thereweresomany
Thereweresomany

Fairies, maidens
Princes, poison apples
and ogres in the agony of
Hushed lullabies and wailing
Absent walls or petitions
Only tears of freedom
Gushing in perfect French
pooling into mud cakes and spirits
that rise from their dust
Excerpt from Gathered at Her Sky - Poets Wear Prada Publishing 2010
~ ~ ~

Tantra-zawadi best describes her work "by the love that I make through my art to the vision of the unseen reality."  Soulful and sublime, her poetry explores love in all its forms; from the rush of the first kiss to the bittersweet.  Born in Brooklyn, New York, as a performance poet and published author, Tantra uses her voice to support the rights of women to exist, think and create through art.

Tantra has performed to standing-room audiences at venues as far away as South Africa, London, Germany and Toronto as well as venues closer to home in the tri-state area.  She has performed original works in the off-Broadway productions of Girl – A Choreospective, A Night of Three God/desses: Soldier Blues and Powerful Women, An Evolution in Reinvention, the Numeral Three, Leaving My Apartment and Other Urban Adventures and projects with the vonduvoisdancecollective. Tantra's recent appearances include the New York Public Library of Performance Arts at Lincoln Center, Badilisha Poetry X-Change Festival in Cape Town, South Africa and the Montserrat Poetry Festival in Missouri.  Tantra is a 2010 Pushcart Prize Nominee and a recipient of the Kings County District Attorney's Office Women’s History Month Award for her artistic contributions to the borough of Brooklyn.


Tantra’s latest release, “Gathered at Her Sky” from Poets Wear Prada Publishing, is available at Amazon and LULU.com (June 2010).  Tantra, a mentor for Girl-Child Network Worldwide (GCN), will donate partial proceeds from Gathered at Her Sky to GCN to provide education, personal items and empowerment for girls in Zimbabwe.  Tantra is also the author of “alifepoeminprogress” by Chuma Spirit Books, and her poetry was featured in Essence Magazine and in spoken word publications such as Redeye, Spoken Vizions, defpoetryjam.com, Platinum Poets, Sunpiper Press, Souled Up and poetswearprada.com.

Tantra-zawadi is the host of her own spoken word series, WORDSPACE, and has made several appearances on cable television, local and satellite radio shows. Known for being on the cutting edge as an artist and for speaking out about issues such as HIV and AIDS awareness, Tantra’s poem and video “Scarlet Waters,” was featured on the Product(RED) video wall created by U2’s Bono and Bobby Shriver, to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS in Africa.  Her short documentary, “A Silent Genocide ~ A Brief Insight into HIV/AIDS” edited by Oliver Covrett, takes another look at the personal impact of this disease.   Tantra also participated in a public service announcement for BETAH Associates produced by Marc Herbert Productions aimed at promoting HIV/AIDS awareness.  Tantra’s videos and films may be viewed on-line @ www.youtube.com/tantrazawadi.

Tantra-zawadi is a member of Collective Spirits and their “Love Planet” EP produced by Jonny Montana and Neil Maclean (Camio Recordings), showcases Bennett Holland on keys, Tantra on poem and Dana Byrd on vocals (traxsource.com).  Tantra is also a contributing artist on poetry compilations such as the award winning “Liberation Sessions: Soul of the City CD” by Mwalim (cdbaby.com), “Summerbreeze EP” by Dolls Combers (traxsource.com), “Poetic Stimulus” by Atlanta Red (poeticstimulus.com), “EARTHOLOGY” by Floyd Boykin, Jr., poet/founder of Spoken Vizions Magazine (cdbaby.com), “Rizen” by Cendrine Marrouat, recordings with world renowned DJ Groove Assassin on “Love Seeker” (GKF Records), Soul Agenda’s “Don’t Let It Go,” Nastee Nev’s “Secrets of Life” and “Giant Steps – Back From Miami” with Dana Byrd on vocals for Do It Now Recordings - all available at traxsource.com.

Follow Tantra-zawadi Online:

~ ~ ~

Thanks to Tantra-zawadi for sharing her tattoos and poetry with us here on Tattoosday!


This entry is ©2011 Tattoosday. The poem is reprinted here with the permission of the author.

If you are reading this on another web site 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.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Tattooed Poets Project: Christina Continelli

Today's tattoo comes to us from poet Christina Continelli. This is part of the lower half of her arm sleeve:


Christina explains the origin of this piece:
"The tattoo is from the front cover of a vintage Heavy Metal comic book my ex-boyfriend used to have. The sleeve was adapted from the drawing by Avelino Avilia at Spirits in the Flesh Tattoo Studio in San Francisco. I had the work done in 1997. There was no deep meaning behind it. I simply found the original image aesthetically pleasing."
What follows is Christina's poem "Charity, " which, she says, "was supposed to be published in [another magazine] this year, but they fell off the face of the earth." Their loss is our gain, I say, and they haven't responded to her queries about the poem, so this would mark it's first publication, I believe.

Charity

This person who requires
very little of me
wrecks the neighborhood
in spirits and crushed feathers               
I wheedle the ajar door
just give a push
and enjoy the feel of it giving

Let loose on the night
with you clawing behind me
feral, whip-tailed, gentle man
a shriek of rubber on wet pavement
and questions
so many questions

I feel two things:
the smoky grit of the upholstery &
the constellation of insects in my veins

Lust is the arch of the moon
in the stomach of a middle-aged woman
perverse and sterile,
a sprinkling of glass and lacquer
from a childhood memory
of dark sex and rage

I keep hearing you talk to me
It sounds like a sugar cube
muddled in brandy
 ~ ~ ~

Christina Continelli is a poet, fiction writer, and essayist. She cut her poetry teeth in the San Diego spoken word scene. In 2004 she moved to Oakland, California to attend the MFA program at California College of the Arts. Her work has appeared in Goodfoot Magazine, Slice, How2,  and Monday Night Lit.

Thanks to Christina for sharing her poem and tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!
~

This entry is ©2011 Tattoosday. The poem is reprinted here with the permission of the author.

If you are reading this on another web site 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 22, 2011

The Tattooed Poets Project: Grisel Acosta


Today's tattooed poet, Dr. Grisel  Y. Acosta, sends her submission in from Texas:


 Grisel explains this body art:
The Mets are kind of responsible for the tattoo I have on my arm and shoulder.  See, my husband is obsessed with the Mets and when we moved to San Antonio from the East Coast, he lamented not being able to see his team on a regular basis.  He was so puppy-dog sad that when he planned a trip to Houston purely on the basis of seeing the Mets play the Astros in Minute Maid Park, I couldn’t help but enthusiastically agree, just to see the wonderfully happy look on his face.  But, I said that if he was going to have a cool experience on the trip, I had to have one, too: I was to get my next tattoo at the famous Texas Body Art, known for countless features in tattoo magazines and highlighted appearances at tattoo shows across the country.  I wanted a skull with blue roses coming out of it but I was wavering about the idea.  Then, a dear friend reminded me of the literary connection of the image in Tennessee WilliamsThe Glass Menagerie, one of my favorite plays by one of my favorite writers.  Ah, yes, the idea was perfect—and the trip was, too!  The Mets won in a record 17 innings!  And I won a professional work of art that was designed on the spot in a matter of minutes by the skilled artists at Texas Body Art.  Sweet!
For people not familiar with The Glass Menagerie, one of the characters, Laura, has the nickname "Blue Roses".

Grisel also sent along this poem:
Trash
Papi threw out all my artwork.

Derek’s carved open chest,
blue-black heart and orange skin in
Design marker scrawl,
condemning our underground afternoon of
Southside sad lust.

A spotlighted box of cereal called “Health”
in a room with a grass floor, pine tree
decoration, and chopped lumber sitting neatly.
Acrylic nature.  I miss this one the most.
I am reminded of it every time I shop at Whole Foods.

Even the two-bits.  Tiny 2x2 art,
entered in competition, or sold.
Two of mine won awards.
One of them, my first sale, was bought for $5.
It was a multi-colored, swirling cathedral called “My Bed.”

I placed all the work under the bed
in the guest room.  By my next visit,
it was gone,

except for “Insane Bridget.”
She is framed and in the living room,
face turned away, bony back
curved at the viewer, harsh
charcoal on brown paper.
Dark copper sadness, winner of a gold prize.

Papi values winning.
Anything else is trash.

And this is why, today, he is so afraid,
scared that retirement means he, too, is trash,
wary of children who might find him useless.

But artists make beauty out of trash.
We roll in the discarded and live with its decline,
listen to it crumble and make the sound song,
cradle it in our hands and sculpt it useful.
 ~ ~ ~

Dr. Grisel Y. Acosta recently graduated from the doctoral program in English at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she was also the managing editor of UTSA’s art and literature journal, SagebrushReview.  Some of her creative work can be found in After Hours, Pembroke Magazine, MiPoesias, the NAACP Image Award nominated Check the Rhyme, PrivateInternational Photo Review, and Voicesde la Luna.  Some of her scholarly work can be found in African AmericanWomen’s Language, Western AmericanLiterature, The Handbook ofLatinos/as and Education, and the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature.  Her influences include her Cuban/Colombian heritage, Chicago—where she was born, house and punk music, sci-fi and cyberculture.

A sincere thanks to Grisel for sharing her tattoo and poem with us here on Tattoosday!

This entry is ©2011 Tattoosday. The poem is reprinted here with the permission of the author.

If you are reading this on another web site 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 21, 2011

The Tattooed Poets Project: Jared Singer

Yesterday, we enjoyed the tattoos and poetry of Elliott D. Smith. Today, we get to check out the work of his roommate, Jared Singer.

I met Jared, along with Justin, last month at the Barnes & Noble flagship store. Like Elliott, Jared's tattoo is a work "in progress" inked by the incomparable Joy Rumore at Twelve 28 Tattoo in Brooklyn.

Check out Jared's upper right arm:


Jared explained that this tattoo has two origins. First, it was inspired by lyrics from a group called Living Legends. More specifically, the words "I'm so fly, even my shadow has its own friends."

The other motif in this piece comes from the lyrics in "9-5ers Anthem," by Aesop Rock, that proclaim, "I tend to underestimate my own average."

Jared says he originally conceived of the piece consisting of "shadows with other shadows". Joy drew up the design and said, "How about this instead?"

The rest is history. Well, sort of. As mentioned at the top of the post, this sleeve-to-be is still a work in progress.

Jared shared this poem with us:


The Last Love Letter from an Entomologist

Dear Samantha,
I’m sorry, we have to get a divorce.
I know that seems like an odd way
to start a love letter, but let me explain.
Its not you,
it’s definitely not me,
it’s just, human beings don’t love
as well as insects do.

I love you far too much to let what we have
be ruined by the failings of our species.
So instead,
I’m going to leave you now,
while I can still remember you fondly.
I saw the way you looked at the waiter last night,
I know you would never do anything,
you never do, but still I
saw the way you looked at the waiter last night.

Did you know that when a female fly
accepts the pheromones put off by a male
It rewrites the way her brain works,
destroys the receptors for pheromones.
Sensing the change, the male fly does the same.
When flies love each other,
they do it so hard,
that they can never love anything else ever again.
if either one dies before procreation
both sets of genetic code are lost forever.
Now that is dedication.

After breaking up with Elizabeth
we spent three days dividing
everything we had bought together
like if I knew which pots were mine,
like if I knew which drapes were mine,
the pain would go away.

When two praying mantises mate,
the nervous system of the male
begins to shut down.
While he still has control over his motor functions,
he flips onto his back
exposing his soft underbelly to his lover like a gift.
She then proceeds to lovingly
and I do mean lovingly
 dice him into tiny pieces
which she  shoves carefully into mouth
wasting not a single morsel,
even the exoskeleton must go.
She does this so that
so that when their children are born
she has a first meal to regurgitate to feed them.
Now that is dedication.

I could never do that for you.
So I have a new plan.
I plan on spending the rest of my life committing petty injustices.
I will jaywalk at every opportunity
I will steal things I could easily afford
I will be rude to strangers
I hope you will do the same.
I hope reincarnation is real.
I hope that these petty crimes cause me to be reborn as a lesser creature.
I hope we are reborn as flies.
So that we can love each other as hard as we were meant to.

~ ~ ~
We also have the good fortune of having video of Jared performing this piece at the Bowery Poetry Club in 2009:



Jared Singer is a poet and audio engineer who lives in New York City. While he may have physically grown up with his peers, he has never forgotten the imagination, magic, and nerdiness that were corner stones of his childhood. He hopes to remind others of these more creative times. He has been published by The Legendary, Union Station Magazine, The Spoken Word Almanac Project 2010 and has also appeared on the Indiefeed Peformance Poetry Podcast. He is the NYC Urbana 2009 Grand Slam Poetry Champion, The 2009 NYC Louder Arts Individual World Poetry Slam representative and a member of the 2010 Nuyorican Poets Cafe Poetry Slam Team.

Much thanks and appreciation to Jared for sharing his work with us here on Tattoosday!


This entry is ©2011 Tattoosday. The poem is reprinted here with the permission of the author.

If you are reading this on another web site 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 20, 2011

The Tattooed Poets Project: Elliott D. Smith

I met Elliott D. Smith at the Union Square Barnes & Noble last month and took pictures of his tattoos for The Tattooed Poets Project. I also met his roommate Jared, whose work will appear here tomorrow.

Elliott has quite a bit of work, including a sleeve-in-progress, which is being constructed by the wonderfully talented Joy Rumore at Twelve 28 Tattoo in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Check out this composite of Elliott's right arm:


This still-incomplete tattoo is part of a sleeve based on a mural at the Morgan Street stop on the L train in Brooklyn.
Photo by Elliott D. Smith

The sleeve has the Alice in Wonderland figure at its center, but a lot of other images, like the banana as well. Elliott pointed out in the photo above that the banana (lower right corner) is much smaller. For the purpose of the art of the tattoo sleeve, its scale has been increased significantly.


Elliott added that he visually enjoys the image of the mural, and his "own little Alice in Wonderland dream land" is slowly taking shape on his flesh.

Also on his right arm with the sleeve is this quote from "The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action," by Audre Lourde:


The quote is "I am not only a casualty, I am also a warrior."

There are times when a writer's words resonate so loudly in your ears, they shake you to your core. Elliott told me that he "read it [these lines] one day and the next day got the tattoo."

He offered up this interpretation of the line: "it's easy to think of yourself as victim," he said, but succeeding in life is about "surviving and fighting through victimhood".

Elliott also has these words on his outer wrists:


This is the third poet this month with "poet" inked on his or her flesh. However, the combination of "freedom poet" adds another dimension to the corporeal text.

This was a "spur of the moment" tattoo, Elliott told me, elaborating that aside from the obvious "poet," he is "holding freedom in his hand and facing out".

Finally, we don't get a lot of lower back tattoos here on Tattoosday, but when we do, they are extraordinary:


Elliott took a couple of photos into Joy and she crafted this design. The concept is a spin on the "power to the people" idea, but with an emphasis on urban people. "Most Americans live in cities," he explained, "but [they] don't have power". This is a spin on the frustration that many feel, that the values of the citizenry of the American cities are not represented by the government.

As for poetry, Elliott offered us this work:

EARNING STRIPES

I own thirteen striped shirts.
I have known the misfortune of wearing lines on skin,
stretch marks and self-hate carve flesh in convincing fashion.
No lover has ever asked me why

I have known the misfortune of wearing lines on skin,
razor blade reminders tattoo thighs with teenage dreams.
No lover has ever asked me why
it was so easy to steal from myself.

Razor blade reminders tattoo thighs with teenage dreams,
this belly, a thanksgiving turkey for carving--
it was so easy to steal from myself
when I didn’t believe I had anything to give.

This belly, a thanksgiving turkey for carving.
Sliced up white meat
when I didn’t believe I had anything to give.
Mother doesn’t know there’s blood on the stairs.

Sliced up white meat,
stretch marks and self-hate carve flesh in convincing fashion.
Mother doesn’t know there’s blood on the stairs.
I own thirteen striped shirts.
~ ~ ~

Elliott D. Smith reps Louisville, Cincinnati, and Brooklyn. When he's not  working with formerly incarcerated people or conducting research on masculinity, he drinks whiskey and talks too loudly. He believes in the power of tattoos, reference books, and matching music with the weather.

Thanks to Elliott for sharing his ink and his poetry here with us on Tattoosday!

This entry is ©2011 Tattoosday. The poem is reprinted here with the permission of the author.

If you are reading this on another web site 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.