Sunday, April 8, 2018

Adam Clay & Ashbery (The Tattooed Poets Project)

Our next tattooed poet is Adam Clay, who shared this colorful literary tattoo:

How is this a literary tattoo? We'll let Adam explain:
"My tattoo was done by Stephanie White (@stephanietattoos) at Deluxe Tattoo (@deluxetattoochicago) in Chicago. I’ve always loved John Ashbery’s Three Poems and decided to adapt a tattoo from the cover art by Trevor Winkfield
At first it felt strange to only use part of the work, but I was reminded of the opening from Ashbery’s 'The New Spirit': I thought that if I could put it all down, that would be one way. And next the thought came to me that to leave all out, would be another, and truer, way. The partial omission seemed right in line with Ashbery.
Adam also shared the opening poem from his latest book, Stranger (Milkweed Editions, 2016). He told us the poem "speaks directly to Ashbery's poem 'The Room."

To Take Note of Where We Are

Plainly spoken, I am responding to you.
Despite our best efforts to will it shut,
the proof of the world’s existence
can best be seen in its insistence,

in its opening up. Should we get lost,
let us be lost in a familiar space, surrounded
by every motion of the unnamed and unseen
until the moment they appear. With the sofa

in a slightly different place this morning,
the room resembles a dream of the room:
the details remain present and realistic
while everything bends toward one wall

in particular. I know what you want,
but the wind will not concern itself with us.

~ ~ ~

Adam Clay’s most recent book is Stranger (Milkweed Editions, 2016). A fourth book, To Make Room for the Sea, is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, Denver Quarterly, The Georgia Review, Tin House, Boston Review, jubilat, The Iowa Review, The Pinch, and elsewhere. He is editor-in-chief of Mississippi Review, a co-editor of TYPO Magazine, and a Book Review Editor for Kenyon Review. He teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Southern Mississippi. His website is

Thanks to Adam for sharing his tattoo and poem with us here on Tattoosday and the Tattooed Poets Project!

This entry is ©2018 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.

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