The 1196 Word Tattoo

Literary Tattoos: William Faulkner Vladimir Nabokov The Merchant of Venice Telluride Sharon Olds Shakespeare Saul and Patsy Are Getting Comfortable in Michigan Rainer Maria Rilke Love Is Not a Pie Lolita Light Years James Salter I Go Back to May 1937 Charles Baxter Billy Collins As I Lay Dying Aristotle Antonya Nelson Amy Bloom Literary Tattoos: William Faulkner Vladimir Nabokov The Merchant of Venice Telluride Sharon Olds Shakespeare Saul and Patsy Are Getting Comfortable in Michigan Rainer Maria Rilke Love Is Not a Pie Lolita Light Years James Salter I Go Back to May 1937 Charles Baxter Billy Collins As I Lay Dying Aristotle Antonya Nelson Amy Bloom Literary Tattoos: William Faulkner Vladimir Nabokov The Merchant of Venice Telluride Sharon Olds Shakespeare Saul and Patsy Are Getting Comfortable in Michigan Rainer Maria Rilke Love Is Not a Pie Lolita Light Years James Salter I Go Back to May 1937 Charles Baxter Billy Collins As I Lay Dying Aristotle Antonya Nelson Amy Bloom

This is Tasia.  She explains her tattoo:

My name is Tasia Celeste, and my tattoo is a study of the unreliability of language in love relationships in literature.  The tattoo is 1196 words so far, beginning at my index finger, wrapping around my arm, my entire body, and down my leg to my foot.  The heart of it is a quote from Faulkner’s novel, As I Lay Dying, about the uselessness of the word love.  Other passages include the entire first chapter of Lolita, Billy Collins’s great poem “Aristotle,”  a quote from Antonya Nelson‘s story “Telluride,” part of James Salter’s novel Light Years, a full Sharon Olds poem “I Go Back to May 1937” and an excerpt from another… some of “The Merchant of Venice,”  part of Charles Baxter’s story, “Saul and Patsy Are Getting Comfortable in Michigan,” part of Amy Bloom’s “Love Is Not a Pie,” and some Rilke.

Sean Pipkin @ Captain Jack’s Tattoo in Portland did the work, and the photos are by Laura Domela.

I Go Back to May 1937

Literary Tattoos: Sharon Olds I Go Back to May 1937

This awesome tattoo belongs to Molly:

This tattoo was inspired by a trip to Bread Loaf this summer, where I studied poetry with Ellen Bryant Voigt.  I have always admired the ways we can re-imagine poems outside of typical lineation, how poems can become sculptures and books can be objects of art with textures and breath.  A bit of fortune converged with my desire:  I have a dear friend in my MFA program whose husband happens to be a tattoo artist, and that husband just so wanted to spend some time on a letterpress, and I had just acquired a Kelsey platen press.  A trade was proposed, and Shawn designed the whole thing with wings in mind, something that would also resemble lungs and breathing and the lift of freedom at the end of Sharon Olds‘ oft-studied “I Go Back to May 1937.” The poem is there, on my arm, in its entirety.  Olds is my most beloved living poet, and this poem speaks to me with my own work–taking life experiences and professing:  “Do what you are going to do, and I will tell about it.”  Olds once said that poetry comes out of her lungs, and now I have this reminder, this collection of gorgeous language, that tells me again and again:  don’t forget to breathe, don’t forget who you are.

You can view Molly’s Flickr set for more pictures of the tattoo’s progress.

The tattoo was done by Shawn Hebrank of Identity Tattoo in Maplewood, Minnesota.