|Photo by James Morton|
I've been a Dolly Parton fan since my family took a road trip to Tennessee in 1987. We stopped at Dollywood, and I fell in love. When I was in college I wanted a Dolly tattoo, but I never went through with getting one. I kept the thought of it in the back of my mind for years, and when I started writing poems about Dolly and my frequent trips to Dollywood to see her perform benefit concerts for the Dollywood Foundation, the idea slowly crept forward again. Then my book of Dolly poems came out in 2009, and I knew it would soon be time. One day last year my friend Liz, who has 14 tattoos herself, told me to stop thinking about it, stop talking about it, and just do it. Sounded reasonable to me. So Liz drove me to Liberty Tattoo in Atlanta and introduced me to Michael "Shack" Shackelford, the artist who'd done most of hers. Shack drew up a stylized, cartoonized version of Dolly from the cover of her 1977 album Here You Come Again, taking some creative license by adding pokey nipples, which was fine with me.
Accompanying this Dolly tattoo is Stephen's poem, "Dolly and the Frog Strangler," which appeared originally in Shenadoah and can be found in his book The Follower's Tale (available here):Liz kept saying she wasn't going to let me back out of it now that she'd driven me there and gotten pulled over for an illegal u-turn on the way, so Shack sat me down, we got started, and today I have Dolly Parton inked on my forearm. While the tattoo is based on a full body shot of Dolly and it runs down my entire right forearm from elbow to wrist, the photo here is a close-up of just her face and torso, which I think makes Shack's details easier to see.
Dolly and the Frog Strangler
Stephen Roger Powers is the author of TheFollower's Tale, available from Salmon Poetry. His work has appeared in Shenandoah, 32 Poems, Dislocate, and Margie. He divides his time between Wisconsin, Georgia, and Dollywood.
A sincere thanks to Stephen for sharing his poem, tattoo and his love of Dolly Parton here with us on Tattoosday!