Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Around the (Inked) Word

Guest post by Liza Sokol, GG intern
Liza, image credit: Laura Murray Photography
For my eighteenth birthday, my father, who has two full-sleeve tattoos, took me to get my first, and I haven't stopped getting inked since. A few years later, we came up with the idea to get matching tattoos. We first thought hockey (Flyers forever!), and then maybe a sushi roll (our favorite food), but neither seemed quite right. Then it hit me: why not pay homage to the one and only Kurt Vonnegut, whose brute charm had won both me and my dad over with every book he published? We haven't gotten them yet, but soon Kurt's ever-present asterisk will be permanently inked on both our bodies.

Tattoos and literature are becoming increasingly complimentary art forms. So for this week's Around the Word, I decided to collect several pieces of tattoo-lit news.

Flesh, Blood, and Ink. A few years ago, writers Justin Taylor and Eva Talmadge started The Word Made Flesh, a blog dedicated to sharing pictures of people's literary tattoos. It was immediately successful, and in 2010 The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos From Bookworms Worldwide was published. The blog is still being updated all the time, with everything from Sylvia Plath quotes to tattoo portraits of writers and literary characters.

The Ultimate Tribute. Buzzfeed has a list of twenty of the best literary tats floating around the internet, including a beautiful Great Gatsby portrait and a Virginia Woolf chest piece. If Shakespeare is more your scene, there's some of that too.

Inked, Themselves. Flavorwire took a different tack and recently showcased the tattoos that famous authors themselves have, including Patti Smith's Crazy Horse–inspired lightning bolt and John Irving's maple leaf, which he got for his Canadian-born wife.

A Story on Many Canvases. Possibly the greatest collision of the literary and tattoo worlds, however, is Shelley Jackson's Skin Project. Participants each get one word (and possibly a punctuation mark) from Jackson's story tattooed on them, so that once the project is complete, the entire text will be perpetually floating around the world. The story will never be published anywhere else, and cannot be summarized, quoted, or adapted to any other medium.

So, GG readers, are there any books or authors you would pay permanent tribute to on your body? After all, it's just a different kind of ink.

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