Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Tattooed Poets Project: Whitman's Song on Michael Mayo's Chest

Today's tattooed poet has a poetry tattoo. Michael Mayo was referred to me by the poet Dorianne Laux, who taught Michael at North Carolina State University.

Michael Mayo has "I celebrate myself and sing myself" tattooed on his chest, honoring the opening line of Walt Whitman's iconic poem "Song of Myself":
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
Michael explains why he chose to have these words, first published in 1855 in Leaves of Grass, tattooed over his heart:

"I got the Whitman quote for a few reasons. The year before [2005], I was dealing with a lot of difficult issues with my family and my Chemistry major at school. My confidence and happiness were being affected very negatively. I took an intro to poetry writing class, and I found I enjoyed the catharsis of writing.

I don't know if I read "Song of Myself" on my own or if we read it in class, but I remember admiring not only the beauty in Whitman's words, but his self-assuredness.

I got the tattoo as a symbol to myself of a great American poet to admire and imitate and as a reminder to have faith and confidence in myself."
Michael is a Creative Writing major and is planning on applying to MFA programs in the fall.

The tattoo was done on his 22nd birthday, March 20, 2006, at Blue Flame Tattoo in Raleigh, North Carolina. Work from Blue Flame has appeared previously on Tattoosday here.

Check out Michael's poem "Blowing Off Death" over on BillyBlog.

Thanks to Michael for sharing his poetic tattoo here on Tattoosday!

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