THE WORDS TO EVERY SONG: Band Tattoos from Music Lovers Worldwide, edited by Eva Talmadge
IT’S ANOTHER CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS! As with THE WORD MADE FLESH, edited by Justin Taylor and yours truly and launched from this very blog last summer, here’s another announcement for a tattoo book. This time around we (the royal we; I’m doing this as a solo project while Justin devotes his time to writing) want to see your band tattoos. Song lyrics, band logos, record labels, musician portraits, you name it. If you’ve ever loved a song or a musician or a band so much you went to the tattoo shop and made your devotion permanent, we want to see it.
Hey, guess what? Fourteen months after first announcing our project on this site, The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide is as real as a needle driving ink into your skin. Today is Publication Day for us, and my co-editor Eva Talmadge and I want to take a moment to offer our gratitude to all of the HTMLGiant readership. Without your early support, encouragement and re-blogging, this project might well have come to nothing. But instead, we’ve got this full-color anthology of hundreds of tattoos in a panoply of languages from book and body-art enthusiasts all over the U.S. and the world. Eva and I have done a lot of press already, and there’s more coming. I won’t be gumming up the works here at Giant with a running tally, but one of the highlights for us thus far has been our appearance this morning on NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook. You can stream our segment here. Also, many listeners are uploading pictures of their own literary tattoos to a fan gallery that NPR is hosting on their site. We’ve also been getting a lot of new tattoos to our submissions address, firstname.lastname@example.org , and we’ve been posting those on the book’s official site. If you’ve got one (or ten), we want to see it, so please do keep ’em coming in. And thanks–seriously–for everything. Cheers!
[NOTE: A vigorous subjectivity is hereby asserted]
I was thirteen in 1994, born a few years too late and too many hundreds of miles away from DC or Olympia to catch the first wave of Riot Grrrl, before the media declared Courtney Love its leader and made short skirts, ripped fishnets and combat boots another uniform to choose from, on the rack next to grunge and goth and punk. The punk rock girls in Miami sort of had the right idea. We wrote zines and covered our hands (and arms and shoes) in magic marker, wore too much black eyeliner and publicly made out with one another, smoke and drank and bragged about the good drugs we could find, and applied duck tape to the rips in our backpacks and notebook covers and black jeans. But we were copying the look from MTV, not inventing it ourselves, and we were more interested in intoxicants than radical feminist politics. We mixed up Riot Grrrl with trampy adolescent showboating, equated it with bands like Hole and L7 and the Lunachicks, plus local favorites Jack Off Jill (more Manson-fanclub than feminist, but at least female), and generally, in the way of all younger siblings aping their older sisters’ trends, didn’t exactly get it right.
Luckily Sara Marcus is here to set the record straight.
Just about one year to the day (7/24/09) from when the idea was launched from this very blog, The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide is an imminent reality. The book–a full-color photo-anthology co-edited by Eva Talmadge and yours truly–will hit stores in October. You’ll be hearing plenty more about it then (we hope), but in the meantime I wanted to let folks know that we now have a website up and running at tattoolit.com. The site–which is primarily a tumblr–updates daily with re-blogs of literary tattoos from around the web that we find, literary quotations that seem like they might be worth writing on your body forever, and in the future will also have some previews/excerpts from the book itself, a book trailer, and whatever else we think of. You can also follow TattooLit on Twitter (the Twitterfeed streams to the website, but please don’t let this stop you from following it). Also^2, there’s the Facebook page. Also^3, even though the book is finished, we’d be glad to post a picture of your literary tattoo on any and all of the above-mentioned, so if you have one or are getting one, please feel free & encouraged to send them our way.
Sometimes I steal books from Justin. It happens. Last week I swiped a good one: Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby, selected and translated by Keith Gessen and Anna Summers. If Justin ever catches on and tries to steal his book back, I’ll go out and buy it, and then read it all again—because this funny, strange, and gruesome short collection is well worth paying full retail ($15) for.
But I don’t want to write one of those reviews that reads like a press release or a protracted blurb. Petrushevskaya is a master storyteller, and like all good fairy tales, hers end in tears. You already know that. Just look at the cover. And it’s easy to say Petrushevskaya is the “heir to the spellbinding tradition of Gogol and Poe”—it says so right there on the back of the book. So okay. Any decent batch of gothic and supernatural short stories is going to get a Poe comp, and Americans will give just about any fiction translated from Russian a Gogol mention. Those are two writers whose names sell books, and pretty much no-brainers here, but (here’s where it gets blurby) damned if Petrushevskaya doesn’t live up to those comparisons and then some, matching both in inventiveness and in gore—and perhaps beating them in heart.
[ WORK DISCUSSED: Tuesday (9/22) – Adrienne Rich, five poems and an essay. Thursday (9/24) – “New York” by Tony Towle; “Texas” by Padgett Powell; “Babalu-Aye” by Eva Talmadge;” writing exercise.]
I never know how to start the class off. Or anyway that’s how it feels. I usually arrive in the room a few minutes early, and start chatting with whoever else is already there. If there’s a conversation already in progress I’ll try to join it, and if they’re all just sitting around quietly I’ll pick someone and ask how his or her day is going, or how the weekend was. If they throw the question back at me (“and how about you?”) I’ll tell them. I try to take attendance right at the official start time, not so much to punish the stragglers as to reward those who got there early. I want them to see me seeing the effort they’ve made. So we do that, and it’s like–now what? “Okay,” I often find myself saying, “what did we read for today?” It’s not that I can’t remember what we read. It’s just that I think there’s something useful about saying it out loud. I asked the class if they preferred to talk about the poems or the essay first. A few people kind of said “poems,” so I said okay, but then there was another choice to be made–which poem? One of the pitfalls of my teaching style (which strives to be dynamic, responsive, and rigorously un-structured) is that it’s hard to get off the ground. It’s like an old prop plane, where you need to start the propellers spinning by hand and then sort of guide it down the runway and hope everything is timed just right and take-off actually happens. Sometimes this takes a few tries. Nobody seemed to care where we started, and consequently we weren’t starting at all.
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS! We are seeking high quality photographs of your literary tattoos for an upcoming book. Send us your ink! Submissions are open to all kinds of literary tattoo work: quotations from your favorite writer, opening lines of novels, lines of verse, literary portraits or illustrations. From Shakespeare to Bukowski to The Little Prince in a Baobab tree, if it’s a literary tattoo and its on your body, we want to see it.
All images must include the name (or pseudonym) of the tattoo bearer, city and state or country, and a transcription of the text itself, along with its source. For portraits or illustrations, please include the name of the author or book on which it’s based. And of course, you are heartily encouraged to credit the artist who did your work.
We’d also like to read a few words about the tattoo’s meaning to you — why you chose it, when you first read that poem or book, or how its meaning has evolved over time. How much (or how little) you choose to say about your tattoo is up to you, but a paragraph or two should do the trick.
Please send clear digital images of the highest print quality possible to email@example.com. Pixel resolutions should be at least 1500 x 1200, or a minimum 300 dpi at 5 inches wide. Text should be included in the body of the email, not as an attached document. Also be sure to include one or more pieces of contact information, so we can let you know if you’re going to be in the book.