Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Tattooed Poets Project: Laura White

Today's tattooed poet is Laura White, who was referred to us by the amazing Dorianne Laux. Dorianne is not inked, but, over the past three years, she has been invaluable as a resource for us, referring numerous tattooed poets to us who she knows in the poetry community, as well as several of her talented students, past and present.

So Laura sent us this photo which, if you ask me, is quite breathtaking:

Photo by Qlint Chesney, courtesy of Laura White

In it, you can see the extent to which she is tattooed, and she offered us this summary of several of her tattoos:

These tattoos were done by amazing Annie Frenzel, who used to be at Blue Flame Tattoo in Raleigh, N.C. but is now at Lowbrow Tattoo Parlour in Berlin, Germany. The bluebird on my shoulder was done about four years ago, and the half-sleeve finished up this past October. I was born and raised in Northeastern North Carolina, where the Eastern Bluebird is a common sight.
Detail of Photo by Qlint Chesney
Aside from being an absolutely beautiful, brilliantly blue and orange bird, they hold a special place in my heart because as a kid my grandparents had a nesting box behind their house. Together, we would keep an eye out on the little inhabitants, shooing away larger birds and guarding the nest from snakes and other predators. When my grandfather passed away about five years ago, I knew exactly how to grieve for him.
            The half-sleeve came later, and is a continuing tribute to the people and places that have made me who I am today.
Detail of Photo by Qlint Chesney
The three kinds of flowers are pink gerber daisies, red poppies, and orange tiger lilies, which my family and I always called cow lilies, because they grow wild in the pastures around our home. The gerber daisies are a personal favorite, because they are strikingly pretty, but in a spunky and fresh way. The poppies are a tribute to a trip I took to Turkey a few years back, in which I realized that the poppies that grow wild all over the Greek and Roman ruins are the same as the poppies that grow along the roadside in my own hometown. And the "cow" lilies, as suggested before, are a tribute to my parents and my childhood family. I remember a specific trip to my grandparents' house in which my dad pulled the car off on the side of the road, shooed us all out of the car, and helped us pick handfuls of lilies from the ditch by the road to take to our grandma.
            I'm far from finished with my body art  -- but maybe don't tell that to my mother. Something that I really hope to incorporate into these pieces one day is the last line of a Philip Larkin poem. It's from "An ArundelTomb," and I think it perfectly sums up not only my tattoo aesthetic, but my poetic one as well: "What will survive of us is love."
Laura also sent along this amazing poem:

My Man

I am a bundle 
of bruised attempts,
a pair of pursed lips,
ringed fingers trembling 
at the task again.

I bandage his fist,
all white gauze and 
wishes I would just 
be done already,
gather the broken glass 
of the curio cabinet, 
the specter of a sentence.      

I wear it like cracked  
concealer, his whiskey
hesitation, silent musing
which tends to bloom
violent in the evening.

Some nights
he just doesn't 
come home at all,
but goddamnit
how I love him.      

His mouth, 
a hot wash of pink
lilies struggling open,
the brown of a petal 
giving up.

His sun touch,
the frozen ground
absence of it.

His hands,            
wisteria when we
breathe together, when
my perfect words 
are his and

has to be
like this.  
  ~ ~ ~

Laura White is a Master's candidate in World Literature at North Carolina State University, and holds an undergraduate degree in Creative Writing from the same institution. She's been writing since she could hold a crayon, and her first published poem appeared in a children's anthology when she was in fourth grade. Since then, though, she's taken an Emily Dickinson approach to poetry, and her work has only really appeared in the Windhover, NC State's Literary and Visual Magazine. One day, she'll have a book for you to buy. Promise.

Thanks so much to Laura for sharing her work, both tattooed and written. And thanks to Dorianne Laux for sending her my way. We here at Tattoosday appreciate it immensely!

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

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