Monday, April 8, 2019

Sara Eliza Johnson and Paradin's Emblem (The Tattooed Poets Project)

Our next tattooed poet is Sarah Eliza Johnson, who sent along this photo:

Sarah explains:
"This tattoo is an emblem from Claude Paradin's Devises Heroïques, published in 1551. I spent a long time deciding on a tattoo and vacillated a lot. I eventually settled on this one because (aside from the aesthetics) it spoke to me while I was facing and processing some really heavy stuff, and I realized that I saw my past, present, and future in these birds struck through with an arrow--each mortally wounded through the breast, but not dead, still flying with their heads lifted.
The tattoo was done by Jeny Ann Kennedy (@jenyannkennedy) at Evergreen Tattoo Company  (@evergreentattoocompany) in Fairbanks, AK."
Sarah also sent us the following poem, which is from her book Bone Map (Milkweed 2014)

Archipelago: The Paradise of Birds

How can an incorporeal light burn
corporeally in a corporeal creature?
The Voyage of Saint Brendan

I come to a series of lights in the fog. 
The lights fly in a halo over an island. 
One light lands on the mast, cleans soot

from its feathers: a simple bird. 
Nearer, they seem stars crafted in a furnace: 
loaves for a hand to break, 

as my god broke me. If you could see 
how these miracles drag my eye 
through the fog, singing We endure

no suffering, you would understand 
why I anchor here, notch an arrow 
and step into them, braced to ignite.

~ ~ ~

Sara Eliza Johnson's first book, Bone Map (Milkweed Editions, 2014), was selected for the 2013 National Poetry Series. Her poetry has appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Boston Review, Copper Nickel, Ninth Letter, Blackbird, Crazyhorse, Pleiades, the Best New Poets series, and Salt Hill, among others, and nonfiction has appeared in DIAGRAM. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, two Winter Fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Philip Freund Alumni Prize from Cornell University. She currently teaches at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

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

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

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