Literary Sleeve

Emily emailed me her awesome tattoo a few weeks ago.  She described it as follows:

Several quotes including Emily Dickinson, Alfred (Lord) Tennyson, Jack Kerouac, Carl Sagan, covering topics such as love, science, education, imagination, strength, and passionate people. Tattoo was done by Ivy Gowen at Metamorphosis in Winnipeg, MB (Canada).  Fonts used are Travelling Typewriter and Veteran Typewriter with the artist’s own ink splatterings added :)

Literary Tattoos: Ulysses On The Road Jack Kerouac Carl Sagan Alfred Lord Tennyson

It’s not every day someone emails me a whole text sleeve tattoo, so I wrote back for more details!  I’ve included some of the excerpts below, and you can read more about the tattoo on her blog.

Literary Tattoos: Ulysses On The Road Jack Kerouac Carl Sagan Alfred Lord Tennyson

Emily explains:

The first excerpt across my shoulder is from Ulysses, and talks of the evanescence of the strength of youth, but also of the immortality of the strength of heart and will:

“Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

Around the corner, across the top of my arm, is an excerpt from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road:

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

Beneath, by Emily Dickinson, is one of my favourite quotes about love. Not an everyday kind of love, but a love that burns brighter than any dream imaginable… a love that transcends words, life, time and death:

“That I shall love always, I argue thee that love is life, and life hath immortality.”

After this, I had two terribly sciencey quotes added, along with a brilliant splattering of ink across much of what had already been done.

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known,” (Carl Sagan), and ad astra per aspera (through adversity to the stars… I believe at one point, this was used by NASA).

I have a few strands of text still to go, a couple of stray words and one full-size quote (below), and then, for now, I’ll be finished! The thing I love about this isn’t just the immortality of so many sentiments that mean so much to me, but also that as I grow and evolve, so too can this.

“As I see it, life is an effort to grip before they slip through one’s fingers and slide into oblivion, the startling, the ghastly, or the blindingly exquisite fish of the imagination before they whip away on the endless current and are lost forever in oblivion’s black ocean.”

Love, science, imagination, language, strength and stars now walk with me through life, and I couldn’t be happier with how it’s taking shape.

So it goes #60, 61, 62

Literary Tattoos: Slaughterhouse Five Kurt Vonnegut So it goes.

This belongs to Jessica Bischoff.

Literary Tattoos: Slaughterhouse Five Kurt Vonnegut So it goes.

This belongs to Bia.

Literary Tattoos: Slaughterhouse Five Kurt Vonnegut So it goes.

This belongs to Jason Meyer in Boise, Idaho.

It strikes me as the simplest explanation of life and everything in it.

This was posted as a part of “So it Goes” Saturdays. The phrase “so it goes” appears in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five 106 times. Can you help me collect 106 “so it goes” tattoos? 62 down, 44 to go.

I am a part of all that I have met

Literary Tattoos: Ulysses Alfred Lord Tennyson

This tattoo belongs to Cindy.

I like that this line means both that I carry within me the impressions of all experiences, and that I leave traces of me whenever I go. These 4 lines remind me that experience is limitless, and that we are meant to move forever forward.
Tattoo done by Os of Cottage 13 in Hamilton, Ontario.

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.

- Excerpt from Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson

love is a thousand shades of grey

Literary Tattoos: Tina Dico

This belongs to Nate from Seattle.

My tattoo is a lyric from the song In the Red, by Tina Dico. She is an incredible singer songwriter from Denmark, and I’m an avid fan. More importantly, I think this lyric captures what we all experience in love.

Love is a thousand shades of grey – and we know
There’s not a safe or certain way to go
But when we’ve seen all, uneasiness and hate, it will show
That it all means nothing, it all means nothing, it all means nothing at all, at all

- Excerpt from In the Red by Tina Dico


Literary Tattoos: Dorianne Laux Antilamentation

This belongs to A.M. Wells.

My tattoo is a line from the poem Antilamentation by Dorianne Laux. When I first read the poem I was struck immediately by how beautiful it was. To me it spoke of how we shape our lives and how we are in return shaped by the lives we live. It encourages us not to regret pain or mistakes because everything passes eventually and we emerge better prepared for the beauty. We know ourselves more truly.

You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the window.
Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied of expectation.
Relax. Don’t bother remembering any of it. Let’s stop here,
under the lit sign on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.

- Excerpt from Antilamentation by Dorianne Laux