Friday, April 19, 2019

Allison Wilkins, an Octopus and a Poem in Greek (The Tattooed Poets Project)

Our next tattooed poet is Allison Wilkins, who sent us a couple of her tattoos:

Allison explained the origins of this octopus:
"The octopus tattoo was drawn by my artist friend, Lib Hedgepath, and inked by tattoo artist Ethan (@ethan_franklin_jrt) at James River Tattoo (@jamesrivertattoo) (Lynchburg, VA, 1337 Main Street). I got the tattoo in 2013, a transitional year for me: between the acceptance of and publication of my first book, Girl Who; this was also the year I got divorced. The octopus became a kind of totem animal for me, a sea beast that was highly intelligent and adaptable (I’m a Pisces). Also, it represents the place, Greece, where I eventually found a second home. But at the time I got my tattoo, I just associated Greece with starting over and living authentically."
Then there is this piece on her back:

Allison notes this is a poem by Titos Patríkios and it:
"... was inked by James River Tattoo in 2012. For me, it marked falling in love with a place: Greece. I went there for a summer workshop and met three other incredible women. We designated ourselves Siren Sisters, explored every nook and cranny of that island, ate delicious meals, and wrote poems. I have never felt more connected to a group of women or to myself. This poem, 'My Flesh,' came from a collection of poems that I was reading that summer. My friend, Joanna Eleftheriou, helped me to translate the poem, but also to learn it in Greek. So I suppose, this also marks my beginning of learning to speak Modern Greek."
Allison sent along her poem "Wants New Mythology" from her collection Girl Who:

Wants New Mythology

Her myth begins coming up from the sea
and ends with two sparrows in flight. In between,

the narrative will unfold, but not neatly.
And it won’t be obvious. There’s a long

litany of gods, a token heroine of divine birth.
There will be dancing and chickpeas.

Barrels of white wine. Island moonshine.
After opening in medias res,

(the island god coming up from the sea,)
there follows a long dissertation

on the texture of sand. Then
another about the slight burn

of Greek sun. Then she will skip
to honeysuckle plucked

by an ambiguous hand.
And sea urchins. Rock formations at Sikamia.

She will refuse all battle scenes
and trips to the underworld.

She will make no mention of desire
or music. Yes, she’ll leave the final image

alone: two sparrows, side by side in flight
before parting. One heading left, the other right.

~ ~ ~

Allison Wilkins is the author of Girl Who. Other poems and essays have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Superstition Review, and The Lyric. She is the assistant director for Writing Workshops in Greece
(@WWIGThasos). She tweets @wilkins_poet.

Thanks to Allison for sharing her tattoos and poem with us here on the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!

This entry is ©2019 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.

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