Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Poet Joy Harjo talks about her tattoo...

Joy Harjo, who visits tomorrow, explains her remarkable hand tattoo on her website:

What do I have on my hand and what does it mean?

The tattoo on my hand is a tattoo. It’s not henna. The style is from the Marquesas Islands. The Marquesas are north of Tahiti.
Roonui, a Tahitian artist, did the tattoo freehand in Moorea, Tahiti. He is now living in Canada. It took two-and-a-half hours. (And yes, it hurt.)
I’d seen the tattoo there on my hand for sometime. The tattoo represents assistance for my work. I use my hands for music, writing, and everything else I do. The tattoo reminds me of the levels of assistance. I am also carrying a beautiful piece of art with me wherever I go.
Roonui says: "Polynesian tattooing is not a simple exercise in aesthetics. Polynesian carve into their body the symbols of their actions (past present or future), their promises, their games."
The part inside my wrist, close to my heart, resembles ancestral designs of my tribal people.
The 8PM reading will be followed by a free catered reception and book signing with Harjo sponsored by SUNY Press (at approximately 9:30 p.m.). The reception is in association with the annual John G. Neihardt lecture celebrating Native American literature.