Portland + Los Angeles
The American poet Norman Dubie says that what gives poetry so much freedom is that no one gets rich off writing it. Passion, and expressive language, drive poems into the world.
Poetry is unique among artforms because it uses as its medium the building blocks of all communication, and, more or less, the building blocks of thought: language. Poetry uses language to communicate something that is beyond language, which is weird and causes things to be at once both what they are and so very much more than they are.
At its most minimal, language speaks to us on two levels: it communicates raw info and it communicates contextual feelings and directions about that info. In the 1960s and ’70s, Aram Saroyan was mining this linguistic landscape to much notoriety — and infamy. His poem, “lighght,” exploded the idea of what a poem even is.
And as the tattoo here illuminates, it’s still exploding ideas right down to the skin. This left hand belongs to another poet, Zachary Schomburg, who writes notes on his hands when he’s not collaborating and touring with musicians and filmmakers and making the sincerest surrealist books since sliced pages.