Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Tattooed Poets Project: Terri Witek's Pessoa

Our next tattooed poet is Terri Witek, who shared this photo:

Terri tells us this
"was inked by Ron Nelson of Mission Street Tattoo, in Santa Cruz CA. Most of my family have sleeves and other major body-work by Ron, who is married to one of my daughters. Some of his most beautiful imagery on the family skin is ongoing and unfinished--a slowly filling- in ship in full sail, an outline of a name. So it seems almost reasonable that I took so long --two decades-- to decide what I wanted. It’s no accident that I was reading Fernando Pessoa’s great Book of Disquiet when a shadow thought finally appeared. Pessoa’s name just means 'a person'—my tattoo could be both tribute to the poet who chose to remake himself in so many heteronyms and a kind of classifying stamp (like 'animal, vegetable, mineral' ) for the end of the world. As I now lead The Fernando Pessoa Game in Lisbon for Disquiet, International ( a workshop with Cyriaco Lopes, the visual artist who first showed me Pessoa’s work in Portuguese) , my tattoo is also part of a more-than-skin-deep, ongoing translation game. For this, and maybe because it took so long to arrive, I love unfolding my arm to it."
Terri also sent us this poem, which closes out her book, Exit Island:

                                with two lines by Fernando Pessoa

Cresce a vinda da lua                                  (but what is gained by the moon’s return?)
Teu corpo, teu limite.

When will o rio dovetail nas ruas                and which ainda arrives too soon?
Cresce a vinda da lua.

While the drunken dogwatch pities                   another far-off monsoon,
Teu corpo, teu limite.

Something pulls against day’s patois.          Something restrings the body’s loom.
Cresce a vinda da lua.

Who would leave your side for comfort?    Who would row against the moon?
Teu corpo, teu limite.

Tudo cresce, tudo pity                                  tudo rua, tudo moon

all is body, all is rowing,                 all notation is natacao

~ ~ ~

Terri Witek is the author of Exit Island, The Shipwreck Dress, Carnal World , Fools and Crows, Courting Couples (Winner of the 2000 Center for Book Arts Contest) and Robert Lowell and LIFE STUDIES: Revising the Self . Her collaborations with Brazilian visual artist Cyriaco Lopes have been featured in galleries or site-specific projects in New York City, Los Angeles and elsewhere. A professor of English at Stetson University, her summer faculty positions have included the West Chester Poetry Conference, the Prague Summer Literary Program and the DisQuiet program in Lisbon, where she runs “The Fernando Pessoa Game.”

Thanks to Terri Witek for her contribution to this year's Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!

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

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