I met our next tattooed poet, Virginia "Vinny" Valenzuela, at the Best American Poetry 2018 launch reading last fall. I noticed she had tattoos, mentioned the Tattooed Poets Project, and here she is! Vinny sent three angles of her tattoo, which I combined into a collage to capture the full scope of her tattoo:
Vinny recalled the following background on her tattoo:
The first version of this tattoo was created in my apartment in Brooklyn in 2015. I spent
weeks drawing up a figure that was meant to be 'a divine version of myself.' It was
inspired by Siddhartha, Shiva, and various works of art at the Rubin Museum in New
York City. With sketch in hand, I went back to my friend’s tattoo shop in Westerville,
Ohio, in the college town I had loved for three years before moving back home. I liked
the tattoo, and I was proud that it was something I had drawn myself, but it just didn’t
A year later, I went to my local shop in the Lower East Side, Daredevil Tattoo (@daredeviltattoo) , where I had gotten my very first tattoo in 2014. I wanted to touch up the girl, and to give her a throne upon which to sit, and so with that in mind, I wrote [the following] poem and handed it to Chilly Pete (@chillypete), and he created, what turned out to be, my most precious (and widely complimented) tattoo.To Pete, What I Want My Tattoo to Say
I want her to be stunning.
A bit of elegance, a touch of cunning,
a lofty goddess, with modesty.
I like flowers and books and waves
I like disobedience and bravery
I like to shock, paradoxically—
like a femme with tattoos
or a joker with smooth moves—
‘Cause I’m an East Village Poet
and the world knows we’re not refined
and some lord knows we’re all sinners
with nothing simple on the mind.
So help her say, Yes! I am a goddess
I am powerful and kind
I am beautiful and I am terrible
I am the enigma of a lifetime.
~ ~ ~
Virginia Valenzuela is a poet and essayist from New York City. Her poetry has appeared on The Inquisitive Eater and The Best American Poetry Blog, where her fashion column “Fashion and Beauty with Poetess Vinny” debuted in fall 2018. Her blog, Vinny the Snail, hosts over 1,100 followers. She teaches English at New Jersey City University.
Thanks to Vinny for sharing her cool tattoo 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.