Wednesday, January 12, 2011

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.


  1. That book sounds really neat. I also LOVE that you have a lesson centered around tattoos. I know even middle schoolers would love that, but I'm not sure their parents would at that point. :)

    This makes me think of all the Dark Mark tattoos running around out there, and also I've seen some pretty interesting tats based off Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, as well.

  2. I want to pick this up. Someone on facebook posted an article that showed some of the tattoos, and some of them were really lovely.

  3. OOhhhh....I've been wanting this book. AND wanting a literary tat as well, just can't make up my mind which one lol =)

  4. How very cool. Both my kids have tats and I have often thought about getting one, I think looking at a book about book tats would be a fun fantasy.

  5. I have this and found it fascinating.

    I love that you found a way to incorporate tattoos into a lesson. Amazing. If my teachers had done that I might have paid more attention in school. *giggles*

    You're awesome!

  6. I really want this one!! I love literary tattoos, and it would be the kind I would get if I ever got a tattoo. Unfortunately, I'm a bit terrifed of needles and don't do well with pain. ahha




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