Rajiv Mohabir Helps Launch Our Tenth Year of the Tattooed Poets Project

It’s superb to me that we’re in our 10th April, celebrating tattooed poets all the way through Nationwide Poetry Month.

We are launching this 12 months’s parade of poets with a different contribution from Rajiv Mohabir!

Rajiv despatched us two tattoos, starting with this one, on his forearm:

rajiv2 Rajiv Mohabir Helps Launch Our Tenth Year of the Tattooed Poets Project tattoo

He tells us:

“The sq. tattoo is in honor of my Aji, Gangadai Mohabir (my paternal grandmother) who mothered 13 kids in Guyana. It was once a long-time custom for folks, and particularly Bhojpuri ladies, to tattoos their husbands’ names on their forearms. There was once a trust that folks’s names held magic, that by means of the use of anyone’s title you could possibly disrespect them by means of giving their energy away. My circle of relatives’s naming traditions are mystical nonetheless, albeit modified moderately.
Right here’s a photograph of my Aji’s tattoo:
rajiv1 Rajiv Mohabir Helps Launch Our Tenth Year of the Tattooed Poets Project tattoo
My Aji tattooed her husband’s title (Sewdass) on her arm with and Om above it, so when folks requested who her husband was once—which seldom came about within the small village of Crabwood Creek—she would have the ability to display them. My Aja didn’t have my Aji’s title tattooed on his arm regardless that.
Tattoos have been considered vital, signifying social status. My tattoo could also be in homage to this custom of ‘godna’ and the Devanagari script says my ancestors’ names in 4 generations within the form of a sq.. The names are Chandranarine, Sewdass, Mahabir, and Lachchman.
Folks ask why I don’t tattoo my very own title on my arm. My solution is all the time ‘It’s on my
pores and skin—that’s my contribution.’

Rajiv additionally shared this tattoo:

rajiv3 Rajiv Mohabir Helps Launch Our Tenth Year of the Tattooed Poets Project tattoo

Rajiv defined:

“Since that is so hetero-patriarchal and on my proper arm (cosmologically vital for the masc energies of the frame in Vedantic concept), I believed to steadiness out my energies by means of tattooing a lotus yantra with the phrase ‘Ma’ within the heart to stay the ladies I descend from touching my center. The left facet of the frame is assumed to be the femme facet. My mom was once low-key indignant that I didn’t have her on my arm. However I advised her I’ve you all over the place my poems, which can exist longer than my pores and skin. Did I point out that I’m an enormous mama’s boy?”

Rajiv shared the next poem, which seems beneath in its unique shape in Guyanese Bhojpuri, adopted by means of his translation:


godna walle ta bulawe
aur baja pe aike kantak leke
hathwa ke juk-juk kare hai
ho rama
hathwa ke juk-juk angrej mein hai
angrej deswa mein inglis bole
hamar paglapan bhulo lalana
ho rama
nu yack mein godna lagal saanwar,
hamar hath pe ii godna lagal,
aapan khandaan-chhap lagal
ho rama
tohar nam likhal hai pitrwa
aapan chamriya pe ajawa
gulaab kantak se nam nam likhal hai
ho rama
koi gaaye walle nahin rahi ohar
jab khoon nikal lage rahi, dard lage rahi
koi rahi nahin dardwa uthaiyeke
ho rama
Kaise bhulye aapan dukh-sukh bhala
kantak ke nisaanwa rahejai
hamar dohe gaayke bataihai
ho rama
kaun jaane hamar muluk
kahan kahan hai hamar gaon
galli galli ghumeli galli galliya
ho rama
kaun batawe kahan kahan pe
ghumeke hai, Rama Rahim ke khoj mein,
kaun bataihe hamar deswa andar hai
ho rama


You name the tattoo artist
on your door who comes together with his needles
to poke your arm

ho Rama
His scoring your pores and skin is in English
In English nation talk English
put out of your mind my insanity

ho Rama
In New York I mark my darkish pores and skin
on my arm I inked
the signature of my descent
ho Rama
Your title he wrote, expensive ancestor
on my flesh, expensive Aja
with a rose’s thorn he wrote your title
ho Rama
No singer performed a folksong
when blood erupted and ache started
no music to ease the harm
ho Rama
Who is aware of the place my nation is
the place my village is
from gulley to gulley I roam
ho Rama
Who will inform me precisely the place
I should wander, seeking out Rama-Rahim
Who will inform me my country is inside of me
ho Rama

~ ~ ~

Rajiv Mohabir is the creator of The Cowherd’s Son (Tupelo Press 2017, winner of the 2015 Kundiman Prize) and The Taxidermist’s Lower (4 Method Books 2016, winner of the 4 Method Books Intro to Poetry Prize, Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Homosexual Poetry in 2017). In 2015 he was once a winner of the AWP Intro Journals Award. His poetry seems and is drawing close from journals like POETRY, New England Overview, Kenyon Overview, Quarterly West, and Prairie Schooner. He won his MFA in Poetry and Translation from at Queens Faculty, CUNY and his PhD in English from the College of Hawai`i. Recently he’s an Assistant Professor of poetry at Auburn College. To learn extra of his paintings, consult with www.rajivmohabir.com.

A hearty thanks to Rajiv for his contribution and his participation within the Tattooed Poets Venture on Desymbol!

This access is ©2018 Desymbol. The poem and tattoos are reprinted with the poet’s permission.

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VMr7DUa8bR4 Rajiv Mohabir Helps Launch Our Tenth Year of the Tattooed Poets Project tattoo