Book Review: The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide by Eva Talmadge and Justin Taylor

I love tattoos. It's not that I love every design and every choice made by every person who has one, but that I love the art of tattooing. I think it's beautiful, and I have some of my very own.

It should come as no surprise that I also love books. To me, the idea of having words and/or images from a favorite poem or book or author tattooed on your body is the utmost in awesome.

With this perspective in mind, you can see why I am so very impressed with the quality (and quantity) of the tattoos contained in this collection. And that's what this book is, a collection. It includes a huge and wide variety of authors. There are great poets ( ee cummings, Dickinson, Mary Oliver, Frost, Whitman, Berryman, etc) included, as well as the "great" novelists, playwrights, and thinkers (Kafka, Vonnegut, Shakespeare, Dante, Kerouac). I am grateful and excited to see all of these old-time favorites represented in this book. But, I am also encouraged to see that there are a bunch of YA authors represented here as well.

My students love looking at and thinking about tattoos. When my students are sophomores, there is a creative writing project that we create. It's basically a collection of vignettes modeled after Sandra Cisneros's The House on Mango Street. One of the topics that students can choose to write about is the tattoo that they will someday get (or already have). This is one of the most popular writing assignments I've ever created, but it's more than just writing. You can tell a lot about a person from their description of their wished-for tattoo.

I love that this collection includes explanations of why the tattooed models chose their literary tats. Aside from being visaully interesting, the back stories of these pieces are so interesting and telling. I cannot wait to show my students this book tomorrow. They are going to love it. Who knows, they might start reading our in-class texts and poems more closely to find an interesting gem for their own ink experience.