Ashton Howe’s “to the prairie”

“I would like to dedicate my tattoo to my dear cousin, whose recent death has left my family and I reeling with heartbreak. He was raised with me along the prairies of Illinois, before journeying west to find a home at Naropa. If I could honor his life in your beautiful work, I would be forever grateful.

‘To the man who showed us –with quirky smile, gentle wit – that family is more than both blood and name; whose sun dawned with ours beneath Prairie State sky, and set heartbreakingly soon behind the Flatirons.

You are missed and loved eternally, and we will carry you always toward the endless horizon of prajna garbha.

Topher Stoelting, 1990-2014″

Ashton Howe

Ashton Howe’s “to the prairie”

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Lisa Roberts’ “who” & a comma

“’soul mate to the prairie dog perhaps/who surveys the environs with keen eye’

‘who’ is a simple, open-ended word. It’s a word that makes me stop, ask, and feel a connection with another person.

Twenty years ago in Boulder, who did I fall in love with and help create two beautiful children? My husband! Who is poetic, an over achiever, wise beyond her years, athletic, smart, and compassionate? My daughter! Who is happy-go-lucky, my star, protective, sensitive, and open-minded? My first son! As foster-to-adopt parents in Boulder County, we have opened our home, minds, and hearts to so much more. Who has overcome so many challenges, is strong-willed, has the biggest hug, a contagious laughter, and a smile that melts your heart? My second son! Who has attention-getting blond hair & blue eyes, loves the great outdoors & animals, and is quite curious? My third son! All the people I have encountered, befriended, and loved have had some influence on who I am today; each of them has a story and a place in my life. You are all stars in my eyes.

My word is surrounded by three stars on the inside of my left heal. Afterwards, a comma tattoo with 3 more stars was still available and it only felt natural, more balanced to mirror them on my right heal, representing our family of six. These were my first tattoos. I am proud to be a part of this fun project, to have deeper ties to the Boulder area and the people living here or simply passing through.

I love Boulder and those ‘who’ surround me!”

Lisa Roberts

Lisa Roberts’ “who” & a comma

Dana Reynolds’ “re-inventing herself”

“I am 31 years old. I had been pondering the idea of getting a tattoo for several years, but couldn’t seem to find just the right thing to have inked on my body for the first time. Maybe I was just too nervous about it. Then I heard about the Boulder Tattoo Project and it really piqued my curiosity.

The community aspect of the project was very much in sync with what I have fallen in love with about the Boulder area. I moved here from Los Angeles about 6 years ago and found the people simply amazing in their friendliness and willingness to help others. Pretty different compared to the general population of L.A. In the time I have lived here, I have experienced rich spiritual growth and I think I owe much of that to an open-minded and generally nurturing environment. I have been learning from some amazing teachers who have guided me to an ever-more-fulfilling and joyous life. I have gone from being a clinically socially anxious person to being free of many hindrances.

Then I got to read ‘Boulder Zodiac’ and found many phrases that stood out to me. One, however, really seemed to define my life in the Boulder area over the last few years. It also reminded me that I want to continue to grow and nurture my body, mind, and spirit. “re-inventing herself” was definitely it and I placed the tattoo on the inner part of my left forearm so that it could serve as a constant reminder to make the right choices. I desire to live a satisfying, happy life. If I make a mistake that leads me away from that goal, I know that I can re-gain my focus and that I have another day to try it again.”

Dana Reynolds

Dana Reynolds’ “re-inventing herself”

Eleanore Tisch’s “largemouth”

“There is something utterly magical in knowing that almost 200 people have different pieces of the same poem on their body. We walk around with them every day: wake up, shower, smoke, whatever. When people ask us what it means and we say ‘the Boulder Tattoo Project,’ we summon each other, even the strangers, to that very place. We are a part of something now that has never been before. Something nameless and desirable. Something dynamic and impermanent. Yet it will stay stationary in our skin for the rest of our lives.

The line that begins with ‘largemouth’: ‘largemouth bass got lucky, and then not so.’ I can’t begin to explain my relationship with this sentiment, so I will let it speak for itself. It applies. What I can speak is the writing that it has inspired me to do, most importantly this:

largemouth laugh trapped in tattoos

I’m always late for everything. And when I arrive, it’s in a shuffle and it’s distracting and annoying for everybody else. I had known about the Boulder Tattoo Project since its conception, seen many of my friends get their phrases, and my response was always just, ‘cool.’ Then one day, mid-November, I got out of Yoga class and my body said to me ‘it’s time.’ I called Claw and Talon and asked what phrases they had left. My choices were ‘the’ and ‘largemouth.’ Initially, I chose ‘the,’ which I was going to get on my finger as a sort of continual semiotics lesson for myself. Then I got to the store and read Boulder Zodiac and saw why I couldn’t get ‘the.’ I had to be LARGEMOUTH. It’s the first word in the Pisces stanza, my birthday is 2/22—I am a mammalian pisces, 1 dolphin chasing its own tail or 2 dolphins playing catch-up. It was the last noun left and it was (is) for me. I’ve been on stage since I was five, always able to fill any space with my voice. I chatter. I can’t contain myself around people and end up blurting out a story that doesn’t matter. You can hear my laugh from blocks away.”

Elanor Tisch

Elanor Tisch’s “largemouth”

Brandy LeMae’s “silvery”

“I received my BFA from CU Boulder with an emphasis in conceptual sculpture, but for the past 15 years I have been working with my husband in our architecture firm, WORKSHOP8. For the last five years, I have had a keen interest in expanding our portfolio to include public art. When I heard Chelsea’s interview about the Boulder Tattoo project on CPR’s Colorado Matters, I knew I wanted to participate in this interesting public art project. A project in which the public actually became the art . . . what a cool idea!

I am an Aquarius, so I assumed that I would pick a word or phrase from that section of Anne’s poem, but after narrowing down a list of possible words and phrases to four choices, I asked my husband and daughter to help me select something that suited me best. We ended up singling out the word ‘silvery’ because as I enter into middle age, I am going through a transformation from a brunette to a silver-haired woman. I felt ‘silvery’ was a way to pay tribute to my metamorphosis.”

Brandy LeMae

Brandy LeMae’s “silvery”

Matt Clifford’s “bass got lucky,”

Because we heard Matt speak these (or similar) words nearly a year ago, we can now testify: what you read below might blow your mind! But it’s even funnier when you experience Matt in person. Look for him–swimming with the fishes in Boulder & falling in love.

“So be it that this shall serve as public notice, due announcement, proclamation that the pronunciation of bass, writ the second word of the fourth stanza of Anne Waldman’s ‘Boulder Zodiac’ poem, is heretofore to be referenced in the dialect of the musical instrument (base) when read aloud from the skin atop the rib of its bearer, one Matthew Clifford. You, of course, are free to say it as the fish say (bazz), and to say any other word in any other way of any poem you may find pleasing in some way. The tattooed does not wish to cramp your linguistic freedom to style.

This choice in diction is made possible and justifiable by the inked’s long-standing fascination of, relationship with, and affinity toward his four-stringed thumpers—Priscilla and Carroll. The right hand rocks steady, aligned with body, grooving, tapping, making, keeping, moving rhythm—the left sets the disposition. In improvisation, as good performing is doing, those fingers may recognize not until the second after it happened what has been done, what expression made, felt out fade and the sounds found to be returning demanding the next piece of (re)action to durate. Instinct finds knowledge, instinct gets lucky too. Luck of the note hit, vibration struck; there is no wrong answer, listen closer, play harder.

And in Boulder this occurs, in Boulder it is likely to fall in love, in Boulder. Boulder a city to love as love is likely to befall how love do the emotions that expand from deep feeling, you will feel them all in a day, exposed, forty degree weather patterns. Hero teaching lineage touches city council meetings closing parties voting to make the streets illegal, dumpster rescue, celebrating whole food hypocrisy a right turn into a poetry reading under a full moon in an alleyway becomes a cop pulling over a bicycle rider while a fraternity brother intern leader networker screams drunken glory on by and then you are back in the living room of the collective where it is okay to feel normal and fall asleep in love with the eerie energy of the mountains and valleys cursing and protecting and not letting anything go dead. What is radical that they let die we go and make more.

So say bass and dance to the music, say bass and swim with the fishes. Come and go, come and stay, have a little temporary autonomous zone, build some community. Struggle in the bubble that bumps into each other, we are never alone, our words make a picture that can be seen from on high, tonight it looks like home. We are lucky to be gazing, please do touch, we are lucky to be stocked and not so, we are still trying. We are hoping to get lucky, we make it, we take it, our play. We say what we like with the words that we find, we draw them to be one and many. We wear our contradictions.”

Matt Clifford

Matt Clifford’s “bass got lucky,”

Jade Cruz Quinn’ “of topological shift”

“I was waitlisted. When I was told room had opened, I was given a handful of leftovers to choose from. I was drawn to ‘of topological shift,’ (comma intact) without having read the poem and with only a vague knowledge of the meaning of topology. I chose it that very minute anyway. I then embarked to research what exactly topology is, as people would undoubtedly be asking me its meaning.

I came to Boulder to attend the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, of which Anne Waldman is a founder. I came with the intention of transformation. I came to allow the topology of the world around me to shift. I came in pursuit of good health; the topology of my body has shifted. The tattoo shifts the topology of my skin.

My relationship to this phrase is complicated. I am a Cancer and my phrase is from the corresponding stanza. I am a poet and I will continue to dissect the meaning of this phrase, and of Anne Waldman’s entire poem, for as long as it is on my skin.

Surrendering one’s body permanently to art has some risk. But in submitting, I wanted to submit fully. This is why I decided to keep all of the stars, to honor the intention of the original artists. I chose to keep the comma in honor of the larger work. The comma is a breath, an afterthought, and a meditation on the phrase’s meaning for those who will read it.

I chose its specific location because of how seamlessly the design moves with the curvature of the shoulder blade.

The tattoo is a prayer for body: to continue to shift, as bodies do, and to grow and strengthen in pursuit of life-long health. It is an homage to the bodies that created the art, to a collective, and to a small, beautiful city that has permanently influenced my life.”

Jade Cruz Quinn's "of topological shift,"

Jade Cruz Quinn’s “of topological shift,”