Monday, April 13, 2020

TC Tolbert: A Joy To Be Hidden/A Gift to Be Found (The Tattooed Poets Project)

Our next tattooed poet is TC Tolbert, who sent us this photo:

TC explains:
This is a riff on a quote by psychoanalyst Donald W. Winnicott. He said: It is a joy to be hidden, and disaster not to be found, and while I wholeheartedly agree, I just did not want to tattoo the word 'disaster' on my chest (for many reasons) and so I tweaked it. It now reads It is a joy to be hidden and a gift to be found.

I’m trans (FTM) and I decided not to have top surgery about a decade ago but I often wear a compression shirt (though not always) and I’m on testosterone. This piece is the decoration that most accurately celebrates and speaks to the both/and of so much of my experience and especially my chest. It was inked on me in Santa Fe by Dawn Purnell – an incredible artist I’ve been to for several pieces (including Duchamp’s Fountain and Magritte’s Treachery of Images).

The photo of my chest is a selfie with my partner’s fingers covering my nipples.
TC shared the following poem, as well, which was first published in The Nation in July 2019:


physicists say we change an object simply by turning
our attention to it—really I am a grandson
only when we are eating at Panera—one of us is lying
always about her particular hunger—I love the children outside of me
counting to 30 while covering their eyes—whose body
will we sacrifice to be in the company of another—each
day across my ongoing—I haul the husk of her—fire
towers are designed for distance viewing—and I am right
here—mothering you into the next life—call me cover
when you don’t know who I could be—time’s
psychologic and legal assault—no one is listening to
ice become water—burying you to keep us alive—

~ ~ ~

Photo by Shawnte Orion
TC Tolbert identifies as a trans and genderqueer feminist, collaborator, mover, and poet. And, s/he’s a human in love with humans doing human things. S/he is author of Gephyromania (Ahsahta Press 2014), five chapbooks, and co-editor of Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat Books 2013). TC was recently awarded an Academy of American Poets’ Laureate Fellowship for his work with trans, non-binary, and queer folks as Tucson’s Poet Laureate. S/he is Writer in Residence at Pratt Institute, 2019-2020.

Thanks to TC for contributing to the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!

This entry is ©2020 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.

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