Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Tattooed Poets Project: Katie Bickham

Katie Bickham is our next tattooed poet. She first emailed me the photo of her tattoo two years ago but her submission fell through the cracks. I apologize in advance for everyone having to wait two years to see this awesome work:

I mean, seriously, how cool is that?

Katie credits this work to Micah Harold at Red Handed Tattoo Parlour in Shreveport, Louisiana.  She tells us how this piece came to life:
"As a writer, when I thought of getting tattoos, I always thought I'd get a particular passage or an image from one book or another.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there were too many.  Being a reader and a writer make me part of a tradition so big and so old that I'll never even read a tenth of a percent of what's already in the world.  So I decided to get the biggest stack of books that would fit on my torso.  But not a tidy stack.  I wanted a stack that was toppling, like it was always about to tip over with its own weight.  No titles. Just a stack of books always waiting to be opened."
Katie sent us the following poem, which is previously unpublished:


I pick up my lecture on metaphor
from where I’d stopped it on Monday,
alternate deliberate eye
contact and turning my back
to make examples in large letters.

They cannot picture me
in the neighboring chair, where I scribbled
for eight years, staring at the backs
of my own professors, who I never seemed to picture
going home.

I sit and stay after for questions,
the long desk distance
between my body and their bodies
making us unreal
and improvable to each other.

Hours later, I hear the scrape
of the garage door lifting,
hear you drop
your briefcase on the kitchen counter,
and we resume

where we left off before
I wound up my hair, buttoned
my sweater and filled my thermos
this morning. You bare
my tattooed back

and exhale your other day over it
and plant your mouth
on that one spot
I cannot touch
with any part of my own body.

~ ~ ~

Katie Bickham's first book of poetry, The Belle Mar, was selected by Alicia Ostriker as the winner of the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize, and was published in 2015 by Pleiades and LSU Presses.  Her work has also won the Editor's Prize from The Missouri Review, and has been published or is forthcoming in The Southern Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Pleiades, The Missouri Review, Deep South Magazine, and elsewhere.  She earned her MFA from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine.  Katie teaches creative writing at Bossier Parish Community College in Louisiana. Visit her at www.katiebickham.com

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

This entry is ©2016 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.

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1 comment:

Tattoo said...

It's not my favourite, but you have to like that tattoo.
Respect for that!