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.

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