Monday, April 14, 2014

The Tattooed Poets Project: dawn lonsinger

Our next tattooed poet is dawn lonsinger, who sent this photo of her tattoo to us:

I'll let dawn tell the tale of the ink:
"This tattoo marks and means many things to me, some of which is hard to articulate. I am enchanted by it/her oppositions. She is exposed and protected, vulnerable and multiple, sensitive and sensual. I identify with her . . . with her quiet hunger (her insatiability as represented by her vampire teeth), her dangerous otherness, her up-out-of the ocean and/or space and/or myth appearance, her antennae-attention to unseeable modes of meaning, her inward-looking third eye, her protective-yet-communicative gear, her animal eyes, her medusa predicament, and perhaps most of all: her faraway look of longing. It's a condition: the human condition. She knows about the wetness of darkness and spooky action at a distance. The symbol on her helmet is the alchemical symbol for copper, which is a metal with great connecting and thermal power, and is the most common conduit for electricity . . . and I believe in electricity, especially inside and between people. Copper has also been linked to water and Venus, thus receptivity and magnetism and sensuality born of sea-foam, and I am--as my poems divulge--complicit with the vagaries of the ocean . . . and with chaos (i.e., life) in general. Also, in Mesopotamia mirrors were made of polished copper and in metaphysical parlance it's said to 'align the subtle bodies,' which I love.
Also this hybridized woman is meant to allude to the Oankali from Octavia Butler's Dawn, an alien race covered with sensory tentacles which directly connect them to other organisms, nerve system to nerve system, giving them the ability to read unconscious/unspoken human emotions and desires. Oankali can also hear human heartbeats at a distance, a skill I apprentice and aspire toward. I teach a course on Monstrosity in Literature and Film and have an affection for the swamp thing who drags her/him/itself into town in search of love . . . and when I got this tattoo, less than a year ago, I was experiencing lots of transitions, felt myself to be that swamp thing. I got the tattoo at Anchor Ink in Salt Lake City from Casey, who did such a beautiful job of getting all the subtlety of line, reflection, and meaning I wanted."
To add a little perspective, here's another view:

dawn shared the following poem, which was originally published in Western Humanities Review and appears in her book Whelm:

[ruin is a thing that happens in the past]

rain spreads like a negligee over everything—

My longing is a forest, and your voice is all the birds
that live there, are hushed in the rain. Let me learn
the candor of falling, the open-endedness of roofs,
how to knot my fingers with earth and let go, how
to put down the unending letter. When I look out into
the porcelain night, see all the fissures widening—
beauty shattering in deep magenta alleyways, I long
for the moxy of the torrential. The old men in doorways
speak in a language we cannot know
of how to slice evenly down the belly of a fish.

The children keep darting out into the lightning,
tempting the gods to tackle them. The rain is making
a case—that baptism, that flush. That the stars will
never belly up. That luster is, of course, an antidote
to our eyes, and we are no more purgatorial than
the pools underneath it all, catching the seemingly endless
runoff, dirty as all get out. When it stops we go outside,
electrified with silvery dampness, and stare down into
the puddles. We see only the sanity of suggestion,
the torn sleeve of time, evidence that we are not
yet ghosts—all echo and ripple and swig.

~ ~ ~

dawn lonsinger is the author of Whelm (winner of the 2012 Idaho Prize in Poetry). Her poems and lyric essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, Black Warrior Review, Guernica, Crazyhorse, Colorado Review, Subtropics, Best New Poets, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Cornell University, a PhD from the University of Utah, and is a Professor of Creative Writing & Literature at Muhlenberg College, and an Assistant Poetry Editor for Anti- and an Associate Editor at Tupelo Quarterly. She is a fan of lightning, love, haunting, and chutzpah. You can find out more at:

Thanks to dawn for sharing her tattoo and poem with us here on Tattoosday's Tattooed Poets Project!

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

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