Tim Buckingham’s “but lost one”

When Tim wrote to us, we knew we would remember Myles:

“When I first read the poem, I did not see my connection to it right away. I didn’t really know what I was looking for. However, when I read the phrases available for tattoos, I began tripping over all the ideas and I emailed Kurt and Kremena with my choices as quickly as I could. I got my first choice, ‘but lost one.’

I chose ‘but lost one’ because on February 4, 2011 I lost my son Myles. He was the back end of a set of twins. His ‘older’ brother Hagan was born without any health problems. However, Myles had a very serious defect that he was not able to overcome and he passed 28 days after his birth.

‘but lost one’ seems a bit simple, but it felt like the mark I needed to carry at the time. It is fitting, it is who I am, and it is such a part of the story I am living. I have two beautiful children, ‘but I lost one.’ I love my ties to the community, to my family, ‘but I lost one.’ It isn’t a phrase that I use to dwell on; it is a phrase that is 100% reflective of a life occurrence.

People choose tattoos for all types of reasons—to celebrate, to commiserate, to remember. One of the most visceral feelings is the fear of being forgotten and this is so true when you lose a child. You want him or her to always be remembered and to be loved, and you find yourself thinking about the dreams and hopes you had for your child. But you lost one. Simply stated, I lost one.”

Tim Buckingham

Tim Buckingham’s “but lost one”

It’s gonna be huge

How huge? You will have to come to the book launch at The Carnegie Center on Friday, February 7. Save the date–the party starts at 7 pm.

Pre-order your books now through Morris Book Shop. Pre-order pricing rates end on February 6.

Billy Mason

Billy Mason previews the book (he looks pleased)

Calli Simons’ “of the Universe”

We decided, at the very start of the Lexington Tattoo Project, that we would not have current students at Transylvania University (where we both teach) participate by getting a tattoo. Because we truly enjoy our students and because some of them made powerful arguments about why they should be included, this was an incredibly hard decision for us. We were pleased how quickly the students accepted our reasoning: this project is about community and though we were certain we could answer any questions that may have arisen about why we would give free tattoos to students, the tension in such questions could change the conversations surrounding this artwork for a long time. Thankfully, a handful of former students, who are now alumni of Transylvania, did participate in the project.

Calli Simons is one of them. Here is the story of her tattoo:

“I’ve always felt just a little bit different from everyone else. Being mixed race and 5’7” by the end of seventh grade made for an interesting contrast with most of my classmates. Even in my own family, small differences add up. I’m the only oldest child (both my parents are the youngest of their siblings) and the lucky one without astigmatism. ‘of the Universe’ reminds me that while we are all connected through the Universe, it is important to celebrate our differences and learn from other people’s experiences.  ‘of the Universe’ reminds me to keep things in perspective, to remember that while I’m traveling through life, I may feel insignificant, but I’m still a part of a bigger picture. In choosing this tattoo, I unwittingly chose to have tattoo twins, but the small differences between the pattern on which our shared phrase is overlaid make each of us unique.”

Calli Simmons

Calli Simmons’ “of the Universe”

Amanda Locke’s “the first time”

We did not initially recognize the young woman who brought a baby to her photography session for the Lexington Tattoo Project. But when she told us that we had photographed her on a discarded chair a few years earlier, we remembered her: Amanda Locke, who readily came out to sit on a chair across the street from her house on a warm fall day in 2010, the year of DISCARDED: Lexington. Photographing Amanda for the Lexington Tattoo Project, then, felt a little bit like a reunion.

Here is the story of Amanda’s tattoo:

“This tattoo is very special to me. It is one of my proudest decisions. The words ‘the first time’ are close to my heart, especially as I am watching my first baby grow. These words remind me of all my favorite ‘firsts’ I’ve already experienced; they inspire me to continue to experience ‘firsts’ in my years to come. I am lucky to be able to look down at my shoulder and see a beautiful tattoo that connects my past, present, and future—all while showcasing my love and pride for Lexington, KY. Thank you for this one-of-a-kind experience.”

DISCARDED: Lexington, Amanda

DISCARDED: Lexington, Amanda

Amanda Locke

Amanda Locke’s “the first time”

“they left in the golden sheathe of streetlamp light”

Included in the “year’s best” lists by Kentucky for Kentucky and the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Lexington Tattoo Project is thankful for the many spotlights that have been directed at all of us, at our community of participants, people wearing portions of a poem as a commitment to the city we call home.

With the tattoos (below) of Virginia Lenae Alley, Mylissa Crutcher, Sarah Heller, and Sam Young, we are leaving this year in a golden sheathe of streetlamp light.

streetlamp string small

“they left in the golden sheathe of streetlamp light”

“Difficult” words (cont.)

Another part of Bianca’s “The __________ of the Universe: A Love Poem,”  at the mention of which folks unfamiliar with the Lexington Tattoo Project gasp in disbelief, is “The Armpit.” Who could possibly want “The Armpit” tattooed on their body?!

The answer: Kayti McCormick, also known as Trashique D’Lamour, a founding member of the Tinderbox Circus Sideshow, a woman of many many talents (some heavier than others!).

“The Armpit” was Kayti’s first choice. Where did she place her tattoo? Look here:

Kayti McCormick

Kayti McCormick’s “The Armpit”

Thank you, Bianca, for crafting a poem so beautiful that no part of it went unclaimed.

Thank you, Kayti, for giving “The Armpit” a home in your armpit!

Dreaming of Christmas

Just about a year ago, we handed out the designs for the Lexington Tattoo Project tattoos to the people who had signed up to become part of this artwork. Almost instantly, the thin slips of paper with text and blue circles on them showed up on Facebook. Their owners had photographed them in ways that were fun and whimsical, ways that enabled them to own their tattoos even before they were permanently inked.

Just about a year ago, Jennifer Lackey Moore posted this image: a dreamy promise against sparkly needles.

Jennifer Lackey Moore

Jennifer Lackey Moore’s “they’d ever dream to”