Friday, April 27, 2018

Emily Wolahan on the Tattooed Poets Project

Our next tattooed poet is Emily Wolahan, who shared her ink with us:

Emily tells us:
"My first tattoo was one of the birds in the flock I've got on my arm (the one at the bottom). They are all swallows and this first one I had done immediately after my daughter was born. I was living in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England—the first time I'd lived permanently outside the US in over 10 years. As a kid who grew up moving around internationally, I never felt like I had a home and when I relocated to England, the sense of being unmoored hit me again. I chose the swallow because sailors would get a swallow for each 5,000 nautical miles traveled. I felt I'd earned at least one. Later, I liked the idea of having a swarm. The swallow can also symbolize a successful journey and when I had the other swallows done, I was on my way out of Newcastle and headed back to the US."
She also shared the following photo with a couple additional pieces:

Emily added:
"My next tattoos are for my family. On my wrist is an ornate "S & F," my kids Sylvie and Franklin. The band further up that arm is the same design as on my wedding band. This tattoo was done by Greg Rojas at Ed Hardy's Tattoo City in San Francisco. Greg was recommended to me, but I hadn't really put the whole 'Ed Hardy' thing together until I was at the studio. Ed Hardy himself came in while I was on the table for a chat. Greg's since moved up to Petaluma, but I hope I can have him do my next, as-yet-undecided tattoo—he's incredible."
In addition to her tattoos, Emily shared " old poem, in honor of when the tattoos happened," noting that "the title is from Thomas Hardy—the 'sly and unseen' day is the one when death comes:


The infant cannot stop laughing. 

In the white gallery, his mother inspects 

where concrete meets a burst of dirt feeding 

blades. Freshly painted walls abut 

the grass line guttering. 

She watches it fed synthetic sun.  

Exhibit: new air, new cycle. 

The infant laughing. 

Below a flat gallery of clouds, the city pigeon 

must rise, beating against the volume 

of empty space, its intricate layer, 

feather moving air.  

Hollow bones espouse its inaccessible landscape, 

push higher, higher, until pressure changes, 

oxygen changes and turn then to

plummet in an open marriage to the core.  

The backward pump of a bird landing 

in the full sway of pregnant trees, 

their acknowledgement of captive air. 

To step barefoot on the grass,

to change limbs' mobility, lightness in bones, 

coolness between toes and tickled ankle. 

The infant, laughing, 

bids goodbye to the room. The room collapses.  

It seems phenomenal an animal 

can hold still in that air.  

That some solutions 

become answers, their spatial disclosure 

a forklift of readiness. And the rest: 

our unseen day 

carried on and up and away.

~ ~ ~

Emily Wolahan is the author of HINGE, published by the National Poetry Review Press. Her poems have been published in Oversound, Boston Review, Volt, DIAGRAM, Tinderbox, and other places. Her poems have won the Georgia Review Loraine Williams Poetry Prize and the Arts & Letters Unclassifiables Contest. She is Senior Editor at Two Lines Press, Editor of JERRY, and lives in San Francisco. She is currently an Affiliate Artist at the Headlands Center for the Arts.

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

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

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