Monday, April 1, 2013

The Tattooed Poets Project: Kirsten Smith

It is astonishing to realize that this is the start of our fifth annual Tattooed Poets Project! When we first started, I was worried I'd be able to assemble a month's worth of poets, and here we are, about to embark on another group of the inked and talented. What's more, the interest this year has been unprecedented, and readers will be getting more for their National Poetry Month - there will be days when we feature not one, but two, tattooed poets.

We're launching our fifth annual installment with a small tattoo on an accomplished hand - that of Kirsten Smith, who is not only a wonderful poet, but a talented novelist and screenwriter. Check out her tattoo:

Kirtsen explains: 
"I got it in 1991 ... back when it was illegal in NYC! My friend Brigitte Sullivan and I designed matching rings on the train ride uptown to Darren Rosa's apartment; it was pretty last minute. It was the early 90's and we became best friends studying film at NYU. We modeled the design after some actual rings we always wore. Hers' had a heart in it, since her birthday is Valentine's Day. Life took us on different paths, but I always feel connected to her, thanks to this ring."

Darren Rosa has been a fixture in the New York City tattoo scene for over 25 years and helped found Rising Dragon Tattoos, which opened on 23rd Street on the ground floor of the Chelsea Hotel, and has subsequently relocated to 14th Street.

Kirtsen was kind enough to send along her poem "Tattoo Parlor," which was originally published in The Gettysburg Review:

Tattoo Parlor

I make my living with one hand on a girl's ass
and the other on a fuse box.
Three nights a week I'm in a room
filled with soft noises
or the brittle silence of men in pain.
Like any good artist, I have a poison pen;
like any good citizen, I pay taxes.
Sometimes, though, I like it too much,
the endless carving,
the pop of certain needles,
the ink on a punk rocker's breast.

And tonight, while a skull and bones
is travelling from my fingers
into the arm of a Merchant Marine
and two girls are giggling in the hall,
I wonder what I'm doing here,
if I can take one more day
of a brunette's blood on my hands,
or my best work
walking off into the sunset.
The girls are squealing oh gross
and the Marine is grimacing hard
and I'm taking their bodies and changing them,
I am taking their lives
and making them my own.

~ ~ ~

Kirsten Smith is a poet, screenwriter and novelist. Her recent YA novel, Trinkets, was just published by Little, Brown, as was her 2006 novel-in-verse The Geography of Girlhood. She’s co-written the screenplays for Legally Blonde, 10 Things I Hate About You, The House Bunny, She's the Man and The Ugly Truth.

Thanks to Kirtsen "Kiwi" Smith for helping us launch our fifth installment of the Tattooed Poets Project here on Tattoosday!

This entry is ©2013 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo photos are reprinted with the poet's permission.

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