Every now and then I manage to talk a small press author into showing us a little skin... tattooed skin, that is. I know there are websites and books out there that have been-there-done-that already, but I hadn't seen one with a specific focus on the authors and publishers of the small press community. Whether it's the influence for their book, influenced by their book, or completely unrelated to the book, we get to hear the story behind their indie ink....
Today's ink story comes from Kelly Fordon. Prior to writing fiction and poetry, Kelly Fordon worked at the NPR member station in Detroit and for National Geographic magazine. Her fiction, poetry and book reviews have appeared in The Boston Review, The Florida Review, Flashquake, The Kenyon Review (KRO), The Montreal Review, Rattle, Red Wheelbarrow, The Windsor Review and various other journals. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, On The Street Where We Live, which won the 2011 Standing Rock Chapbook Contest and Tell Me When it Starts to Hurt, which was published by Kattywompus Press in May 2013. Her short story collection, Garden for the Blind, was published by Wayne State University Press in April 2015. She works for Inside Out Literary Arts in Detroit as a writer-in-residence.
Ido not personally have a tattoo but a pivotal character in my novel-in-stories, Garden for the Blind, sports a tattoo of a blue butterfly on his upper arm. I imagine it looks something like this:
The book is about two privileged white kids from the Detroit suburbs who pin a drug deal on a black scholarship student and get him kicked out of their posh private high school. The stories follow the main characters’ trajectories (or lack thereof) for thirty years. In the penultimate story, an inner city kid named Jerome gets a butterfly tattoo on his upper arm in honor of his mother. Someone sees it (without giving too much away) and becomes convinced that Jerome has attacked him. This is a book about how limited each person’s perspective can be. We see what we are capable of seeing given our own backgrounds, and because of that we miss a lot of vital information about other people.
Butterflies are a symbol of transformation and of soul. In the book, Spiritual Pilgrims: Carl Jung and Teresa of Avila by John Welch, the author said something that resonated with me and led me to include the butterfly tattoo in this story:
“The butterfly is an apt image for the delicate freeing up of a condition that had felt like entombment. It speaks of a speaks of a gradual lifting up of a heart that had been heavily weighed down.”
In my book, the schism between the city and the suburbs weighs everyone down. The butterfly is a symbol of hope and my hope as the author is that people who read this book will be able to sense some redemption at the end.
Here are some other sources: