Holiday Gift Guide: The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos
Here's another lit pick for our gift guide:
The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide, by Eva Talmadge and Justin Taylor, is a beautiful compilation of literary tattoos, whether they be favorite lines from Shakespeare, Shel Silverstein illustrations, a Kafka portrait, or the truly hardcore--a full backpiece of Theodor Adorno's essay "For Marcel Proust."
The Word Made Flesh comprises 150 photos of these tattoo tributes accompanied a statement from the wearer about the work. Some offer a few paragraphs on the significance behind their tattoos while others just have a few words like the Brooklyn College professor with the Adorno backpiece who simply said: "I'm always shocked at how few people make themselves into a lifelong monument to their favorite prose or verse."
This book, however, proves that there's a significant group of people who do. And it seems most live in my Brooklyn backyard. [Our humble borough is home to many writers and has more "coffices" per capita than anywhere in the world (maybe), and considering it's also ground zero for NYC's top tattoo work, the connection seems natural to fill a book.] The authors are also Brooklyn residents. They explained in an interview with GalleyCat that the project was inspired by seeing literary tattoos on the streets and even on their roommates. Justin said, "We decided to see if this was a coincidence or an actual trend, and put a call for submissions up on HTMLGiant.com. Pictures started pouring in immediately and we were off to the races."
View more tattoo submissions on their site TattooLit.com.
Tattoo by Thor at Yonge Street Tattoos in Toronto
I was also happy to see Shelley Jackson's Skin project featured in the book. Skin is "a 2095-word story published exclusively in tattoos, one word at a time, on the skin of volunteers." Read more about it (and how you can participate) here.
My one big issue is that the tattoo artist credits are at the back of the book in list format, which is hard to follow. I think the artists who render the words on skin should have equal billing with the authors on the very page the work is shown. That said, I recommend it as an interesting (and affordable) softcover for tattoo word nerds on your holiday list. Amazon sells it for $10.19.
Eva's next project will be a collection of music tattoos. She's looking for song lyrics, band logos, record labels, musician portraits, and the like. Check this post for more info on that book and how to submit your own photos.
For more on literary tattoos, also hit the Contrariwise blog.