Monday, 29 April 2013

The Tattooed Poets Project: Carl Phillips

We're closing out this year's Tattooed Poets Project with Carl Phillips. I've had the pleasure, over the years, of meeting Carl and hearing him read on at least two different occasions at the New School in Manhattan, in conjunction with the Best American Poetry readings. Needless to say, when Carl agreed to participate, I was thrilled.

Here's a photo of Carl's tattoo:


Carl explains:
"I got the tattoo after seeing a compass on a map in my copy of Moby Dick. I chose not to include the N,S,W,E part, to suggest that I lack direction, though the compass itself suggests the desire for direction ... it's on my left upper arm. A guy named Barber did it, at a place here in St. Louis called Iron Age."
Carl pointed me to a few poems online that he said we could share here, and I chose this one:

Leda, After the Swan

Perhaps,
in the exaggerated grace
of his weight
settling,

the wings
raised, held in
strike-or-embrace
position,

I recognized
something more
than swan, I can't say.

There was just
this barely defined
shoulder, whose feathers
came away in my hands,

and the bit of world
left beyond it, coming down

to the heat-crippled field,

ravens the precise color of
sorrow in good light, neither
black nor blue, like fallen
stitches upon it,

and the hour forever,
it seemed, half-stepping
its way elsewhere--

then
everything, I
remember, began
happening more quickly.

~ ~ ~

You can hear Carl read the poem here.

Carl Phillips is the author of twelve books of poetry, most recently Silverchest (2013). He's a professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis.

Thanks to Carl for sharing his tattoo and poem with us here on the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!



This entry is ©2013 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoos are reprinted with the poet's permission.

If you are reading this on another web site other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.blogspot.com and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

The Tattooed Poets Project: Susan Briante

Our next tattooed poet is Susan Briante:


Susan explains the origins of this tattoo:
"I got my tattoo in Albuquerque although its origins can be found in Oklahoma, where I took my first job out of college working for the now defunct Tulsa Tribune. I was making $13,000/year as a reporter covering public education. I rented a room in house with a view to the Sunoco refinery. I was in love with two men, the closest of whom lived almost 700 miles away. Tattoo shops were illegal in Oklahoma at the time, so a friend told me about a tattoo artist from Arizona who would fly into Tulsa and tattoo after hours in the beauty parlor where her mother worked.

I picked out the design from a Mexican milagro, (literally 'miracle') a small metal charm usually in the shape of body part (eyes, lungs, arms) that could be pinned to the robe of a religious statue as offering. They were supposed to concretize the prayers of the faithful. A lung-shaped milagro, for example, might be pinned to the robe on a Virgin of Guadalupe statue along with prayers for the health of a family member with a cough. For my tattoo, I chose a milagro heart with a dagger through it that I thought was supposed to ward off a broken heart.
We awaited the arrival of the tattoo artist from Arizona. And when he didn’t show, I drove with my friend to Albuquerque—and got my tattoo there—where I’d met one of the men I had fallen in love with. The one I would marry and with whom I’d move to Mexico City. The one I would divorce.
I came back to the states, became a poet and started grad school, fell in and out of love a few more times. Early in an intense courtship with the poet Farid Matuk, we took photos of each other’s tattoos and started using them as screen savers on our cell phones. In the ten years since, we’ve moved in together, moved to Dallas, had a baby, got married in cupola of a Marfa, Texas, courthouse, switched cell phones and numbers, but we still have the same tattoo photos as screen savers.

A few month ago I figured out what my next tattoo will be (Farid already has his) a copy of the birthmark that our daughter has on the inner arch of her right foot."
Farid's tattoo appeared earlier today on Tattoosday.

Susan directed us to her poem "Parking Space," which appeared here on Verse Daily:

Parking Space

Billboards yield to burdened cloud,
a sulfur pink of population, supply-side chorus
in the static between stations

while the evening sits with its shirt unbuttoned,
while the engine sings bones and armor,
thin legged ponies and miles for water.

Jagged as sleep the sudden breech of elements,
rain scrubs stone, halogen rusts the sky.
You find the country pricked with neon,

spread across the windshield like a centerfold,
until you smell the buckshot, watch the scout
who parts branches with a lover's rough fingers.

As if there might be a place for us:
porch towns between the relay towers,
a folding chair just inside the garage,

a bed of lottery tickets or a fistful of keys.
A bowl at the table. A parking space.
A window full of shallow hills.
~ ~ ~
Copyright © 2007 Susan Briante All rights reserved
from Pioneers in the Study of Motion
Ahsahta Press
Reprinted by Tattoosday with permission

~ ~ ~
Susan Briante is the author of Pioneers in the Study of Motion (2007) and Utopia Minus (2011) both published by Ahsahta Press. Her chapbook, The Market is a Parasite that Looks like a Nest, part of an on-going lyric investigation of the stock market, was recently published by Dancing Girl Press. She is an associate professor of literature and creative writing at the University of Texas at Dallas. She lives in east Dallas with the poet Farid Matuk.

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




This entry is ©2013 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.


If you are reading this on another web site other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.blogspot.com and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

The Tattooed Poets Project: Farid Matuk

Our next tattooed poet is Farid Matuk.

Check out this photo he sent:


That's Farid's foot on the bottom. He explains:
"I had this piece done at Suffer City Tattoos in Dallas, TX on New Year's day 2013. I believe the artist's name is Robert. I chose to replicate a freckle my daughter has on side of her right foot. I wanted to place a crown atop the freckle to suggest the special place she has in my heart.
She's also bossy in an endearing way, and I often feel I'm in training not to serve her needs (as the martyr model of parenting would have it), but to definitely make a place for her needs and agendas in my otherwise self-directed life. I guess this is typical of most parent/toddler relationships and the crown helps me commemorate this dynamic. I took the stylized crown design from a tattoo I saw show up on one of the many tattoo boards I follow on Pinterest. The original design has the crown adorning the top of a bird's head."
Farid sent us his poem, "My Daughter All Yourn," which, he explained, "is one of a series of sonnets [he] wrote after studying the sonnets of Bernadette Mayer. It appears (here) on the Poets.org/Academy of American Poets website."

My Daughter All Yourn

will she be closer to the falling away of the gaze of things than others? 
hands on the water she calls scene setting
hands on the table water over the houses and hills swimming
not the ocean or the sea but the frame of time she’ll tell of
wild happy yeses in her hands
she bites through in rage when rage
comes to her or we do and she’s too small a flag
what does our house say?  these borrowed things solid and whole
fabric lost to her a greasy boy speaks fast at the pizza stand
more available to be seen the young in their concerns
amidst the old artifice paint a boat and it will mean a dream
put names of your dear ones in it all yourn standing up
these little soft hands she bites through the bright white light of summer
shines off sand and vinyl siding itself composed against the salt

~ ~ ~

Farid Matuk is the author of This Isa Nice Neighborhood (Letter Machine Editions, 2010) and the chapbooks Is It The King? (Effing Press, 2006) and Riverside (Longhouse, 2011). New poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming online at Poets.org and in print in Black Warrior Review, Third Coast, Iowa Review, Mandorla, Critical Quarterly (UK), The Baffler, and other journals. This Isa Nice Neighborhood was a finalist for the Norma Farber First Book Prize, and received honorable mention in the 2011 Arab American Book Award. Matuk is a contributor to Scubadivers and Chrysanthemums: Essays On the Poetry of Araki Yasusada (Shearsman, 2011) and to the poetry anthologies American Odysseys: Writing from New Americans (Dalkey Archive, 2013) and Beyond the Field (Counterpath, forthcoming). His new chapbook, My Daughter La Chola, is forthcoming from Ahsahta in March, 2013.

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



This entry is ©2013 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.

If you are reading this on another web site other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.blogspot.com and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Tattooed Poets Project: Christopher Arigo

Our next tattooed poet is Christopher Arigo, who sent us this image from his thigh:


He tells us:
Often referred to as “The Shaman” or “The Sorceror,” my tattoo is based on a sketch by Henri Breuil of a cave painting from a cavern in Trois-Frères, Ariège, France. Breuil, a French archeologist, claimed that the drawing/etching represented a Paleolithic shaman, a kind of happy hunting juju. I’ve always been intrigued by this particular image---I remember seeing a picture of it when I was fairly young, probably in some Time-Life book about cave art or something. For me, it represents a connection to our not-so-distant Paleolithic past and I do hunt, so maybe some of its juju will rub off. I have several other cave art tattoos, so it’s also part of an ongoing theme on my body. There’s something very visceral and ancient about it. There is also the question: why did they make this art?

The tattoo was done by Riley Baxter at Pussykat Tattoo in Las Vegas.

The poem that Christopher sent us keeps with the Paleothic theme:

Considering the fossils

once sap
now combustible
stone
once called electron
god-tears
carved petrified sun

once mixed
with rose-oil
for failing eyes
now eyes
warm to the touch
burned as incense
burning to remember

and when you dig
it is hard to believe
the stone
was once wood

its rings now ring
with a finger's flick
no longer
ligneous
bark and cambium
visible
in cross-section

how to believe
that gingko leaves
leave behind
fan-shapes
veins and chloroplasts
almost intact

no xylem
left after rain
and pressure
and layers
and layers
of sand and relentless
lithography

~ ~ ~ 

Christopher Arigo’s first poetry collection Lit Interim won the 2001-2002 Transcontinental Poetry Prize (selected by David Bromige) and was published by Pavement Saw Press (2003). His second collection In the archives (2007) was released by Omnidawn Publishing. His poems have appeared in numerous literary magazines including Colorado Review, New American Writing, Barrow Street, and many others. He co-edits the literary journal Interim with poet Claudia Keelan and is an Assistant Professor of English at Washington State University.

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





This entry is ©2013 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.

If you are reading this on another web site other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.blogspot.com and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

The Tattooed Poets Project: David Jonathan Newman

We have another returning Tattooed Poets Project alumnus today, David.Jonathan Newman.

David's previous contribution appeared two years ago, here.

This is a collage of a work-in-progress that David sent along for 2013:


David explains that this is:
"...a three-quarter sleeve on my left arm by none other than the famous Bruce Kaplan, owner of Lark Tattoo in Wesbury NY and Albany NY. We've both been very excited about this project and it's been in progress for over a year now; excited to be getting well into the color portion of it. Essentially, the tattoo is Bruce's take on a wicked thunderstorm; tidal waves, thunder and lightning, intimidating clouds and fire. Towards the end of the tattoo down by my forearms, the sun's rays come out through the cloud cover and the storm breaks. I've been through a lot in my life (just like many people) and this tattoo, like many of mine, is meant to remind me that I can get through every hardship I have coming; and that I was able to get through everything that's been thrown at me so far.

The quote in script was a previous tattoo that Bruce has been going around... it was done years ago by Chris Koutsis at DaVinci Tattoo in Wantagh NY. It says It's What You Love, Not What Loves You and was inspired by the Charlie Kaufman movie Adaptation."

David sent in this recent poem of his called "the night":

the night.

night comes

night comes exhaled in
casually flourishing in the expanse as if we acquiesced to its maturation
planting its flag among the corpses of our plans for the day, unaccomplished
and the cold
glacial, numbing wind searing across flesh and foliage
air in your lungs like an icestorm
liquid nitrogen eventide

the night is isolation
abandonment and abated breath
a brilliant abattoir of allegiances meant only to separate us and conquer hearts
colonize your capillaries with Cimmerian shade
circumventing circulation

I poured out a little of my drink for her, it froze instantly as it hit the permafrost
exhaled into slow smoke, dancing in the lantern light
frustrated that something so inanimate could take on such life
such alluring life in this ruination and gloom
I miss you
god, I miss you
the way your teeth always backdrop for your smile
the way we interlock perfectly before dreams take us
the way you shuddershake when you climax

you left me

and I go unaccompanied into the night
with this drink and these thoughts
and this lantern
and this love

~ ~ ~

David Jonathan Newman has been a poet and vocalist/lyricist in bands, both on Long Island, NY and in Miami, FL. He is working on a collection of poetry, writes music as a solo artist and has a blog (http://captainselfdestruct.blogspot.com) where he posts both his solid works and stream of consciousness ideas. He's been winning poetry contests since 6th grade, but recently he's been featured in online publications including Haggard & Halloo Publications, quite a few times - and even the Tattooed Poets Project, back in 2011. He's currently floundering back and forth between wanting to pursue his poetry pseudo-career to get more of his work out there, and the soul-crushing hopelessness that any poet feels, wanting to pursue their medium in the year 2013.

Thanks to David for once again contributing to the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!


©2013 The Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday
This entry is ©2013 Tattoosday.

If you are seeing this on another website other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.blogspot.com and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

Friday, 26 April 2013

The Tattooed Poets Project: Erika Lutzner

Today's tattooed poet is Erika Lutzner, who sent us this photo:


Erika explains:
I have five tattoos which tell the history of my story; skin is my canvas. The tattoo that I want to share is of Ganesha. I chose to get the tattoo of Ganesha because he is the remover of obstacles, and I was at a point in my life where my path was far from clear. Ganesha watches over me and keeps me grounded and safe. I also have a tattoo of Hanuman carrying a mountain. He represents strength and knowledge. Anil Gupta did all my tattoos. He is an amazing artist. He works on the Lower East Side at his shop, Inkline Studio Inc.
Erika sent us this poem, as well, which was first published in failbetter, July, 2009.

Blackness Slips Through Sundays

A mirror cannot speak truth
Just as a woman’s face masks
a madness
The man in the mug shot
Could be anyone’s husband, friend, father, —
The woman hides behind
fiction

~ ~ ~

Erika Lutzner is the editor of Scapegoat Review. She curates Upstairs at Erika’s, a monthly writer's salon in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Her work can be found in various places such as failbetter, Eclectica Magazine, and Tygerburing Literary Journal. Her first book, Invisible Girls, by dancing girl press as well as a second book, Some Things Are True That Never Happened (an anthology) are both out. She is working on various new projects. You can find Erika at http://upstairsaterikas.com/ as well as http://scapegoatreview.com/.

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

This entry is ©2013 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.

If you are reading this on another web site other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.blogspot.com and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Tattooed Poets Project: Ethan Hon

Next up in the Tattooed Poets Project is Ethan Hon.

I met up with Ethan in the Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn earlier this month and took photos of three of his tattoos.

Ethan credits the talented artists at Fineline Tattoo in Manhattan.


Ethan explained that "the tattoos of Keats [above] and f(x) [below] were done by Mehai Bakaty." He added, "Keats is self-explanatory [and] F(x) I got done as reminder to be a person, to function."


As for the third tattoo (directly below), Ethan explained,

"Mike Bakaty tattooed Boy with Machine by Richard Lindner [and] was done because I couldn't stop looking at it and also because as Deleuze and Guattari remind us: A schizophrenic out for a walk is a better model than a neurotic lying on the analyst's couch. A breath of fresh air, a relationship with the outside world.
I have two other tattoos not pictured: Cascading black hearts and [one] of Ulysses with his dog once he has returned, along with the Arnold Geulincx phrase, 'Ubi nihil vales, ibi nihil velis' translated roughly as 'Where you are worth nothing, then you shall want for nothing' beneath it.
Ethan sent us this poem:

Red Hook

Jesus has dicks for hands
we must not tell him. Of course,
we will never tell him. Again,
or rather once, Dan walked, drenched
from New Jersey, home to New Jersey.
Last night I lay on the floor with a dog
named Pirate. Don’t tell Creezy.
When Santo told me his tattoo
was of his brother, I told him he should
never wear sleeves. It was not but
it was warm. I should only think
of things that are dripping with fuck--
across her lips, I did not negotiate a life
preserver. The world opens to my de-claring.
To have once been enamored is nice
but now I think everyone is divorcing,
Sail by me on your bicycles,
saying, “See you next Tuesday.”

~ ~ ~

Ethan J. Hon is from Omaha, Nebraska. He is a co-founder of JERRY MAGAZINE. His poems and prose have appeared or are forthcoming in Screen and Paper, TheThe, The New Inquiry, Dossier, Tin House, Cimarron Review, Cannibal, Nebraska Review, and Assembly Magazine. His paper “It Is Easier to Raise a Shrine than Bring the Deity Down to Haunt It: Beckett in the Blogosphere” was presented in June of 2011 at Samuel Beckett: Out of the Archive International Conference. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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

This entry is ©2013 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoos are reprinted with the poet's permission.

If you are reading this on another web site other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.blogspot.com and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

The Tattooed Poets Project: Laura Mullen

Our next tattooed poet is Laura Mullen, who sent us this photo of a koi on her ankle:.


Laura explains:
"The fish was a celebration of a book, early on (#2 maybe?)--somewhere before I realized how serious I was about this book stuff? I mean, these days, I think a bottle (or so) of champagne is fine now (I'm glad I don't have 7 or 8 tattoos!) (I have two); I'm more like, Okay that's awesome, another book, now let's get back to work.

(I'd like another tattoo at some point but the right place and occasion need to be clear.)
This Koi was done is San Francisco at a studio my friend Joshua Clover recommended: 222 Tattoo. [The shop closed in 2000, according to references here and here.]
Can't recall the name of the artist who did the work, sorry…there was some effort put in, as you can tell, and the fish--out of the sun mostly--is holding up well."
Laura was kind enough to send along the following poem which "is unpublished and newish":

The Plastic Wrapper

The war on drugs
The war on terror
The war on kids
The war on bullshit
The war on drugs
The war on guns
The war on health
The war on bacon
The war on drugs
The war on war
The GOP war on voting
The Left’s war on fertility
The war on Weed
The war on salt
The war on poverty
The war on women
The war on moms
The Republican war on Science
Why can’t the army win the war on suicide
The war on truth
The war on fun
Stop the war on Iran before it starts
The war on drugs
The war on terror
The war on coal
The war on Democracy
The war on sharing
The war on Terror
The war on Drugs
The war on free clicks
The war on health
The war on poverty
The war on cancer
The war on drugs
The war on drugs is a failure
The war on evil
The war on the war on coal
The war on drugs
The war on drugs is just plain crazy
The war on terror
House approves stop the war on coal bill
The war on work
War on terror the board game
The war on Islam
Iraq War
End the war on pubic hair
The war on cameras
The war on drugs
The war on success
The war on bacon
The war on cancer
The war on Christmas
Gulf war
The war on Choice
The war on bugs
The war against boys
The war on immigrants
The war on poverty
The war on Pellagra
The battle for the war on women
The war on terror
The war on coal is a myth
The war on drugs is a failure
The war on Children
The war on women
The war on silver
The war on wolves
The war on terror is over
The war on kids
The war on the middle class
The war on the poor
The war on animals
The war on cancer
The war on terror
The war on Christmas
The war on drugs
The war on drugs the war on drugs
The war on democracy
The war on bugs
The war on terror
Rupert Murdoch’s war on journalism
The Christian right and the war on America
The war on drugs
The war on women
The war on Iraq
The war on drugs the war on democracy
The war on the bill of rights
The war on baby boomers
The war on American jobs
The war on business
The war on success
The war on gays
The war against the weak
The war on doping
The war on wrong
An end to the war on drugs?
The war on terror is ‘over’
The war on cameras
The war on Syria
The war on drugs is lost
The war on women
The war on men
The war on teachers
The war on health
The war on finance
The war on margarine
The war on bagpipes
The war on Wisconsin
The war on Sexual Temptation
The war on crooked police
The war on pizza
The war on java
The war on Nixon
The war of art
The war on everything
Defend America

~ ~ ~

Laura Mullen is the author of seven books: Enduring Freedom: A Little Book of Mechanical Brides, just out from Otis Books / Seismicity Editions, and The Surface, After I Was Dead, Subject and Dark Archive (University of California Press, 2011), The Tales of Horror, and Murmur. Recognitions for her poetry include Ironwood’s Stanford Prize, two Board of Regents ATLAS grants, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Rona Jaffe Award, among other honors. She has had several MacDowell Fellowships and is a frequent visitor at the Summer Writing Program at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa. Her work has been widely anthologized and is included in American Hybrid (Norton), and I'll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women (Les Figues). Undersong, the composer Jason Eckardt’s setting of “The Distance (This)” (from Subject) was released on Mode records in 2011. Mullen is the McElveen Professor in English at LSU and a special interest delegate in Creative Writing for the Modern Language Association. She is a contributing editor for the on-line poetry site The Volta.

Thanks to Laura for her contribution to the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!











This entry is ©2013 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoos are reprinted with the poet's permission.

If you are reading this on another web site other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.blogspot.com and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Tattoosday Book Review: Skin Graf - Masters of Graffiti Tattoo

I guess it's no surprise to me that a quality book about the convergence of graffiti and tattoo art  has come to pass. Even less surprising is that Michael "Kaves" McLeer is involved.


Kaves is co-author, with Billy Burke, of  Skin Graf: Masters of Graffiti Tattoo, which is being released tomorrow, April 25, 2013, by Prestel Publishing.

In fact, before I even talk about the book, I should alert readers that tonight, April 24, 2013, Kaves and Burke, along with writer/producer Sacha Jenkins, will be speaking at the New York Public Library as part of the library's "Design and Style Series." The event runs from 6:00 to 8:00 PM and I plan on being in attendance. Directions and further details can be found here.

I am not a native New Yorker, but when I moved here in 1997, I settled in south Brooklyn, in the area known as Bay Ridge. My fellow city-dwellers who have lived here longer, recall the days when graffiti artists were household names, and have their share of memories of subway cars that were moving billboards for the daring and adventurous artists of this often-misunderstood art form.

When I started blogging about tattoos in 2007, it really was a learn-as-you-go experience for me. I first encountered the work of Kaves a year later, with this post. A year later, I met him, after he opened up shop on 93rd and 3rd near my home in Bay Ridge, and had the pleasure of watching him tattoo close-up (while I was being tattooed by another artist working in the space). His shop, Brooklyn Made Tattoo, is a fixture in the neighborhood and I run into Kaves from time to time, such as when he shared this tattoo, which was done by the legendary Mark Mahoney.


So you can imagine my excitement about the opportunity to read and review this new book, which chronicles   the history of some of the most well-known graffiti artists who have crossed over into the business of tattooing.

The list of artists ranges from Kaves to Seen ("the undisputed godfather of graffiti-inspired art on skin"), and includes Med, Baba, Mister Cartoon, Giant, Ces, Yes2, Pyro, Norm, Helz and Coast.

Each artist merits a chapter, cleverly color-tabbed, and chock-full of wonderful photos by Estevan Oriol and Angela Boatwright, and supplemented by many of the artists, as well.

The reader is introduced to each of these legendary figures with their tags, locations (Bronx, Brooklyn, San Francisco, L.A., Boston...), a small biographical blurb, and several pages of first-person narrative, accompanied by pictures of both art forms, graffiti and tattoo.

Seen
Photo by Estevan Oriol
The juxtaposition is brilliant, as the reader is treated to the sense of styles jumping from inanimate to animate, from brick to flesh. And just to prove to the naysayers who may question the "validity" of graffiti as an art form  we also see more traditional tattoos from these amazing artists, but with that extra something, a touch of the urban art that lies within the steady hand of the tattooers.

by Mister Cartoon
Photo by Estevan Oriol
I can't praise enough the ambitiousness and scope of this project, which succeeds to no end. It's amazing to see the versatility of these exceptional artists who can work as impressively on a canvas the size of a building facade or on something as small as the side of a hand.

Pyro Can
Photo by Estevan Oriol

by Kaves
Photo by Angela Boatwright
This book really is a visual treat.

by Mike Giant
Courtesy of Giant

by Mike Giant
Courtesy of Giant
The range of talent is breath-taking and I whole-heartedly recommend Skin Graf as a must-have for fans of graffiti art and tattooing.

My only criticism is that I want more. The book is bursting with color and styles, but it leaves me with questions, and wanting more. I would love to see a sequel. Are there any established female graffiti/tattoo artists? How about from other parts of the world? Hopefully we'll see a Skin Graf 2!

This book will hook you with its serious appreciation of the history and art of graffiti tattoo. It certainly expands one's appreciation of the art form, both on and off the human canvas. It's a must-have for your tattoo library!

Remember, if you're in New York City tonight, come to the New York Public Library to hear the authors discuss this incredible book.




This entry is ©2013 Tattoosday.

If you are seeing this on another website other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.blogspot.com and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

The Tattooed Poets Project: Bridget Lowe

Our next tattooed poet is Bridget Lowe, who sent us this photo:


Bridget explains:
"I got this tattoo rather impulsively in the fall of 2008 in Syracuse, New York, at the excellent Halo Tattoo. I had recently found out that my surname came with a motto, Spero meliora, which translates to 'I hope for better things.' I just thought it was hilarious and apt that the Lowe family motto pronounced to merely hope, while so many other family mottoes announce intentions to destroy, maim, annihilate, etc. The motto seemed like a weirdly accurate summation of my Irish Catholic ancestors, who were overall a suffering bunch, from coal miners to morphine addicts to alcoholics to religious fanatics to general melancholics. Better things--that’s not much to ask for, and they asked so nicely. It really killed me. "
Bridget was also kind enough to send us this poem:

Heaven

The villagers are reading hot guts
and drinking tonics. I’m relaxing
on a rock, sunning my midsection,
my delicate white legs.
The palm trees stand stiff
in the wind, archaic, shyly optimistic,
foreign. A Cuban boy
presents me with a muffin, his homeland
a mere neck’s-turn away.
My hair blows this way
and that, as if I’m the featured guest
in a music video from my childhood.
For every broken heart, one golf course.
Everything comes out even.
The birds call me by name
and while I’m distracted, fish heap themselves
into my basket. And the loaves,
the loaves! They multiply.

~ ~ ~

Bridget Lowe is the author of At the Autopsy of Vaslav Nijinsky (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, The New Republic, Ploughshares, The Best American Poetry (2011), and elsewhere. She has received a "Discovery"/Boston Review award and fellowships to attend The MacDowell Colony and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. She lives in Kansas City.

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



This entry is ©2013 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoos are reprinted with the poet's permission.

If you are reading this on another web site other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.blogspot.com and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Tattooed Poets Project: Kevin Patrick Lee

Our next tattooed poet is Kevin Patrick Lee, who had initially expressed an interest last year in our project, but we had to wait for 2013 to run his submission.

We're running this post on a Tat-Tuesday, because, as Kevin explains, he sent us "two poems ... regarding the subject matter of each [tattoo]." And because, "each poem gives insight into the respective tattoo," he adds, "...further explanation isn't needed."

First, the tattoos, side by side on Kevin's inner forearms:


We'll start with the tattoo on  the left (Kevin's right), which is a portrait of his father. Followers of the television series L.A. Ink might remember this piece, which was featured on the show and created by Corey Miller at High Voltage Tattoo in West Hollywood.

This is the accompanying poem:


The Reality

My father died in my arms
early on a Thursday morning.

I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t even sad.
there was no time or room for that;
that was my mother’s job.

At the time, my brother and I
worked in the same warehouse,
the same dirt, the same grime,
the same bullshit from corporate pricks.

The day after my dad died,
my brother was back at work,
and I made it in the day after that.
We probably worked harder those few days,
than we ever had before.

And we got a lot of awkward looks,
uncertain stares that said,
“Hey, what are you doing here?
You should be at home, wilting and weeping.”

But like our hard-working Irish father,
we are blue-collared through and through,
until one day we too kick the bucket
butt naked on the cold linoleum
of the bathroom floor
some unsuspecting morning.

And though we have a lifetime to mourn,
the truth is,
bills don’t stop for death
and rent is always due on the 1st.

===========================================================

The tattoo on the right (Kevin's left) is based on Frida Kahlo's painting "The Broken Column" and was tattooed by Brittan "London" Reese at Vatican Studios in Lake Forest, California. The poem accompanying this tattoo is "Hooked":


Hooked


When I walked out of our apartment for the last time,
I grabbed every roll of toilet paper.
I took the clips that tacked down the cable wire.
I picked up all the damn bobby pins that miraculously
flew out of my wife’s hair and onto the carpet.

I stripped everything, except 2 hooks on the wall.
The two hooks that held up a painting that brought my wife and I together;
It was Frida Kahlo’s Broken Column.
There is nothing romantic or sexy about the painting,
except perhaps Frida’s bare breasts,
which I’m sure weren’t as perfect as
Salma Hayek’s breasts which played the part of Frida’s breasts
in Julie Taymor’s 2002 amazingly colorful film.

I don’t know what my wife’s attraction to the painting was,
and I still don’t,
but I identified with the nails scattered all over her body
and the literal broken column of her spine.

There were times in my mid-twenties where I couldn’t
roll over in bed to turn off my alarm clock because the discs
in my back were angry over their current living situation.
My doctor asking me, “So when do you want to schedule surgery.”
I never took her up on her offer,
instead popping pain pills and muscle relaxants when needed.
Luckily I have never been the addict.

And I have nothing to complain about,
as so many people have it worse.
I know a woman who had something
implanted in her that would permanently
block the pain receptors going to her back,
because without it, she would have hung herself.

This was our favorite painting separately before we met,
and perhaps it just goes to show that sometimes
pain and suffering leads to extraordinary things.

I left the apartment and those two hooks,
and wanted to beg the landlord to keep them there,
so that perhaps it would bring inspiration to two more people
to hang something on the wall together,
the walls that hold them together,
the walls that keep them safe together,
so that they could fall in love here,
make a family here,
so that they could one day move on
and beg the landlord to leave the hooks in the wall.

===========================================================

Kevin Patrick Lee is the husband of a beautiful blue-eyed woman, and the father of a cool blue-eyed boy. He hosts a monthly poetry series called The Hump Readings, was a founder of Beside the City of Angels: a Long Beach Poetry Festival, and runs Aortic Books. His work has appeared in book collections and many great small press mags. A book is forthcoming in 2013 by World Parade Books.

Thanks to Kevin for sharing his poetry and tattoos with us here on the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!

This entry is ©2013 Tattoosday. The poems and tattoos are reprinted with the poet's permission.

If you are reading this on another web site other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.blogspot.com and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.


Monday, 22 April 2013

The Tattooed Poets Project: Kazim Ali

Our next tattooed poet is Kazim Ali.

When I reached out to Kazim at the beginning of the year, he commended me on the "prescience" of my inquiry, stating "I am as yet unwritten upon but am planning said writing in the next week or two...".

So, when Kazim sent us this photo, the ink was still fresh:


It's a great shot and when I first saw it, I was interested to hear what these lines of text were all about. Kazim didn't disappoint with this history:
"I have practiced yoga since 1999, never feeling more than a strict beginning, knowing less and less about yoga with every passing year. With poetry it feels the same. Though raised with traditional Muslim values, I struck out on my own to try to figure out God after encountering the work of Fanny Howe. From 2009-2011 I worked on my own book about yoga and Islam, called Fasting for Ramadan. While working on that book I came across and began translating the work of 20th century Iranian poet Sohrab Sepehri. One of his lines that resonates for me the most talked about the qibla, the direction of Muslim prayer--the direction toward which one must turn to face Mecca.

Sepehri's line (in translation) is roughly: I am a Muslim. My qibla is toward one single bloom of a rose.
Needless to say, my yoga practice taught me to always strive, to always try to know, that living (with or without a spiritual practice) is that exactly, a 'practice,' meaning 'process.' To write on the body is not permanent at all because the body is not permanent. To inscribe is to strive. The Farsi script runs right to left and the Sanksrit runs left to right. Each attempt at knowing oneself starts in the world, with others, in community, something I learn from both Islam and from Yoga.
I wrote on my left forearm: Man musulmanam. Qiblam yek ghul-surg.
I wrote on my right forearm the first line of the Yoga Sutras: Atha Yoganusanam. [in translation: Now (here, at this very moment in this very place) begin the teaching of yoga.]"
Kazim described how he came to know his tattoo artist:
"I met Sam McWilliams through my friend, Genine, also a poet. I wanted someone to write these sacred scriptures onto my skin and I wanted someone who would understand, if not the power of the scripture itself, then for sure the sacred quality of writing and of bodies. Sam had lived with Genine for a long while at the San Francisco Zen Center.

I went to Mermaids Tattoo, a special place where all the tattoo artists are women. We talked about the scripts and Sam said that while she had written Sanskrit before she had never written Farsi. I liked the idea of being in the hands of someone who knew her scripts but would be writing one for the first time. It felt like an occasion in the universe."
Kazim sent us this poem, which is an excerpt from a longer poem, which appeared in his book SKY WARD (Wesleyan University Press, 2013)

from "Journey to Providence"

but will I broken will I undone
at the water ask to go deeper a boat
dusting lindern clears away envy

wandering like lilac snow in dunes
never the water enter the duskwarm room
will I let you wing me will I have leapt skyward

~ ~ ~

Kazim Ali is the author of four books, most recently SKY WARD. He has also published two novels Quinn’s Passage and The Disappearance of Seth, two collections of essays, Orange Alert: Essays on Poetry, Art and the Architecture of Silence and Fasting for Ramadan: Notes from a Spiritual Practice, and translations of Sohrab Sepehri, Marguerite Duras and Ananda Devi.

His poems and essays have appeared widely in such journals as American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly and the Harvard Divinity Bulletin. He edited the essay collection Jean Valentine: This-World Company and serves as co-editor of the Poets on Poetry Series and the Under Dicussion Series, both from the University of Michigan Press, contributing editor of AWP Writers Chronicle, associate editor of Field, and founding editor of Nightboat Books.

He is an associate professor of Creative Writing and Comparative Literature at Oberlin College and has served as visiting writer at many colleges and universities including Naropa University, St. Mary’s College of California, New England College, Texas State University, Western Illinois University, University of Michigan, University of Wyoming, the University of Southern Maine and Idyllwild Academy.

Thanks to Kazim Ali, not only for sharing his tattoos and poetry on the Tattooed Poets Project, but for taking the time to expound so thoughtfully on how he came to have this work done.





This entry is ©2013 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoos are reprinted with the poet's permission.


If you are reading this on another web site other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.blogspot.com and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.