30 January, 2023

A Truly Permanent Book Mark

We’ve all seen literary tattoos; a few of us may even have thought of getting one.  A discreet one.  In a heavily covered place…. right?

But how about getting inked as part of a literary design contest?  Well, that’s, um, a novel idea!

Revolver is a literary arts organization based in Lowertown, St. Paul, Minnesota.  According to Revolvertheir website, “We produce events that push the boundaries of what a ‘literary’ event can be, publish work that is concrete and resonant and full of risk, and create space for writers to explore long-term projects.”  In the past, they’ve done projects such as “Write Fight”, which pits one established writer against another; each is given a prompt and has one hour – and only one hour – to craft a story.  The two submissions are posted online, and fans vote on who moves on to the next level.  I, myself have participated in their “Wanted” project:  a 300 word flash fiction piece, again written on a prompt (such as “I will say we lived, and the police corroborate this story”), with the winner being posted on the Revolver site and on their Facebook page.  Fun stuff!

But Revolver has really, um, pushed the envelope this time.  In a very intriguing way.

They’ve launched a new project they are calling “The Book Marks” – a very literal name, as it The-Book-Marksturns out.  It’s a book cover design contest, for a specific literary work.  The submissions for the originally conceived and drawn book cover will be voted on via internet, and the winning design will be tattooed onto the body of Luke Finsaas, the Editor-in-Chief of Revolver.  The book?  Roberto Bolaño’s Antwerp.  Why?  “Because stories are etched on us anyways.”

Wow – talk about giving your all to your job and your art!

Here’s what Revolver has to say about their contest:

The Book Marks is a meditation on how stories effect us—and how strange and beautiful (and dangerous) it is that they often come to us at random. When you’re young, you pick up a book in the library and read it. You turn on TV and there’s a show on. A friend is in a play so you go see it.

If stories shape the way we perceive the world, what does it mean that we bump into them? What are the implications?

We’re not answering the question. We’re creating an experience that we hope will galvanize creative people to think deeply about their work, their influence, their position of power, etc. We’re creating a frame around the question (while sharing a work that we love with you all).

How? By tattooing reimagined book covers on our bodies. And not just any reimagined book cover—a stranger’s design, selected by strangers.

During the actual ‘marking,’ portions of the work will be read aloud, both to celebrate the work and to physicalize the meditation. Each word spoken aloud will be like a drop of fresh ink marking the editor’s back. That sort-of thing.

So what do you think?  Brilliant, or just a wee bit crazy?  Or perhaps both?  Regardless, it’s Tattoo Cheshire Catintriguing.

What about you?  Think you can come up with a book cover design good enough to be permanently inked onto someone else’s body?  The submission part of the contest opens on October 20 and closes on November 7, so start sketching!

The online voting will be from November 9 to November 14, with the tattooing and reading happening on November 16.  Details – submission and elsewise – and more fun stuff can be found on the Revolver website.

So, what other fun, funky, freaky, unique literary happenings have you seen, been to, participated in?  Inquiring minds want to know!