Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Tattooed Poets Project: Bianca Spriggs

Our next tattooed poet is Bianca Spriggs!

Bianca offers up two tattoos, starting with this one:

Bianca explains:
"The first is a tattoo of the USS Starship Enterprise NCC 1701-D. I got this for a wedding anniversary gift from my husband in 2011. I'm a serious Star Trek fan and was reared on Star Trek: The Next Generation (I literally had collector's cards of the characters stashed in my childhood photo album alongside my relatives), so I figured what better way to make it official? I get all of my tattoos in brown ink because I always thought it'd be neat if they looked like I was born with them—like very intentional birthmarks. The artist, Joe King of Studio Ink at the time, was amazing. I barely felt the needle and this one, given the brown, has held up the best of them all. He has since moved to Easthampton, MA [working at Off the Map Tattoo]. Here's a link to his work:"
She also shared this piece:

Bianca explains:

"The second is the tattoo I got as part of the Lexington Tattoo Project. In 2012, I was asked by two professors from Transylvania University, Kremena Todorova and Kurt Gohde, who are really into community engagement, to compose a love-letter to Lexington, Kentucky. The idea was that the poem was going to be broken into words and phrases and correlating circles and dots that comprised a secret image and spread out among participants in the city. We ended up with over 250 volunteers who all received free tattoos from the poem thanks to local sponsors and arts enthusiasts. After everyone received their tattoos the image was revealed at a big celebration this past Fall. Since the day I turned the poem in, a contrapuntal called "The _________ of the Universe: A Love Story," the project has really taken off and now has a photo book featuring all of the tattoos and stories of the participants as to why they chose certain words or phrases, as well as video featuring each of the tattoos paired with me reading the poem over an original composition by cellist Ben Sollee. Boulder, CO loved the idea so much, they are now doing a Boulder Tattoo Project and have chosen their own local poet. Long story short, I chose the words 'gravitational pull' because every time I try to leave Lexington, I am compelled to return. The artist was the amazing and eternally patient Robert Alleyne of Charmed Life Tattoo, who also happens to be responsible for two of my other pieces. Here is a link to the LTP website:
Bianca sent us the following poem which, she explains, is "in the voice of Guinan, the El-Aurian bartender in Ten Forward from Star Trek: TNG, who was played by Whoopi Goldberg:"

Guinan: On Listening

What I do is not listening.
It’s more like picking out one voice
in the surround-sound of morning
through an open window.
Like hearing one bird call at a time
and recognizing its owner,
or being able to tell one type
of engine over another by how
it accelerates through an intersection,
or which door is being opened and shut
somewhere in the house.
Blended together, it all sounds good—
the opening notes of a great number
to which we all know the words.
The difference between you and I
is that I may choose to focus
on the tambourine or the bass line
for an entire song.
The art of listening is an heirloom
I did not always understand.
El-Aurians take games such as
“Who Can Be Quiet the Longest?”
as seriously as a final exam.
You can imagine how exhilarating
our road trips must have been.
I remember my brother and I bet once
that I wouldn’t be able to keep from
speaking for ten years.
For the first three, I scribbled notes
to everyone in a furious attempt to keep up
with conversations sidewinding around me.
I worried if I wasn’t being listened to,
I didn’t matter.
I would be the only one
in the room no one noticed.
By the time I found my way into a voice again,
I figured out that if I sat still long enough,
someone would inevitably interject
what I had already thought to say.
It was as though the universe
was dialing everyone in a room
and leaving the same message.
It was as though we were all restating
the obvious, over and over again,
fumbling for meaning we already possessed.
They say I’m a good listener.
But this isn’t listening.
This is just me, behind the bar,
mixing your voice in with a drink.

~ ~ ~

Bianca also directs us readers to the poem, "a contrapuntal, that people are now walking around with bits of tattooed into them" here.

Affrilachian Poet and Cave Canem Fellow, Bianca Spriggs, is a writer and multi-disciplinary artist based in Lexington, KY. She is a recipient of an Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship in Poetry and multiple artist grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women as well as a Pushcart Prize nominee. Bianca is the author of Kaffir Lily (2010) and How Swallowtails Become Dragons (2011), and the creator of The SwallowTale Project: Creative Writing for Incarcerated Women. She is the creator and Artistic Director of the Wild Women of Poetry Slam held annually at the Kentucky Women Writers Conference and serves as the current Managing Editor for pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture. You can learn more about her numerous shenanigans here:

Thanks to Bianca for sharing her cool tattoos and poetry with us here on The Tattooed Poets Project!

This entry is ©2014 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.

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