On Tuesday night I went to hear Frank Bidart, a wonderful American poet, reading from his collected works, Half-Light. He was receiving the 2017 Hall-Kenyon Prize in American Poetry. It was a magical evening. I sat with my friend, Aryn, our notebooks open, our pens poised, drinking in the wisdom accrued from a lifetime of writing. There are a million and one prompts I could have used from Bidart’s work but as I was flipping through his poems, I stopped at this one, entitled Three Tattoos.
One of Bidart’s recurring themes is the relationship between the mind and the body: how the two war against one another and yet howe we try, time and again, to establish some kind of union between the two warring sides.
I’m fascinated by tattoos. I wonder what it is that makes people feel so strongly about a word, a sentence, an idea, a name or an image, that they want it marked, forever, on their skin. It feels like a form of longing – the longing to make something impermanent, permanent.
So, today, think up three tattoos and write about them. Here are the tree that Bidart refers to at the beginning of his poem:
ONE: Maria Foerever
TWO: labyrinthine intricate
coming pent dragon
Now write your own and use them as a springboard for a story or a character.
Write for 5 minutes or more, no stopping or looking back.
Happy writing! 💫