Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Birth of Venus Reimagined (Kathleen Nalley, Tattooed Poet of the Month)

Over the years, I have met many a tattooed poet via social media, word-of-mouth, or in person. Kathleen Nalley is the first poet I've met via a tattoo artist.

I met South Carolina artist J.J. Ohlinger (@jjohlinger) at the New York Empire State Tattoo Expo (@nyempirestatetattooexpo) last month in Manhattan.

It was while hanging out at his booth, talking to one of his clients (whose work will appear in a future post), and chatting about Tattoosday, that the subject of tattooed poets came up.

I believe it was J.J.'s wife, who was working the show with him, said that they knew a poet that he had tattooed, and the photo was in his portfolio. The rest, as they say, was history.

I reached out to Kathleen, and she happily agreed to share her cool tattoo:

Photo Courtesy of J.J. Ohlinger
Kathleen explained how this tattoo came to be:
"I got this particular tattoo last June when JJ Ohlinger ran a contest to tattoo three people in celebration of his third year as a tattoo artist. Luckily, I was one of the winners!
As a lover of words, I’d always imagined Boticelli’s Venus coming out of an open book instead of a clamshell. Boticelli’s Venus was known the ‘birth of beauty,’ the feminine ideal. My tat riffs on the idea that women were created to be someone’s beautiful object." 
Kathleen also shared this short poem from her manuscript-in-progress, Gutterflower:

What Man’s Hands Wrought

Long  before  there  was fracking there  was  you unearthing 
the very earth digging trenches in soil spilling your chemical
goo  turning  mud to muck leaving nutrients to dry fuck you 
nature    heals  herself  in  time  even  the  most  eroded can 
make   anew   grow   pickups  from  seed  littered  the  wind 
always  knows  what  to  do  carry  things  away carry things 
where   they   will  bloom  wildflowers  color  the  landscape 
permeate the  air oh her honeysuckle hue she’s wild always
wild  always  remade  no  matter  the matter or intrusion or
drilling or fracture believe her she will
 ~ ~ ~

Kathleen Nalley’s prose poetry manuscript-in-progress, Gutterflower, follows the life of a Southern woman caught in an unending trap of poverty and violence. Kathleen is the author of the chapbooks Nesting Doll and American Sycamore. Her work is forthcoming or recently has appeared in Fall Lines, New Flash Fiction Review, Slipstream, Rivet, and storySouth, among others. Not surprisingly, she has a poem forthcoming in a violence against women-themed anthology from Sable Books.

Thanks to Kathleen for sharing her tattoo and poem with us here on Tattoosday, and to J.J.Ohlinger for introducing us!

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

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