Monday, September 16, 2013

Poetry Bra or an A-bra-cedarium

Several years ago, I read in a poetry reading series curated by Reb Livingston in Washington, DC called the Burlesque Poetry Hour.  I remember the tiny backroom in a cocktail lounge as covered in red velvet, packed with people.  The idea was to create a poetry-related piece of clothing that each poet could take off, and would then be auctioned off to make a little money for each poet.  Reb told us specifically that ties and scarves were NOT allowed - too easy, she said.

So I made a poetry bra, an "a-bra-cedarium" that consisted of a list of words having to do with breasts - a word for each letter of the alphabet.  This was not entirely easy, and I had to poll friends to fill in the gaps.  I made two of these objects - one to auction, and one to keep.

I brought the project to a local t-shirt printer to find out how we could do this, along with the artwork for a separate project (t-shirts for my husband's business).

Me: "I have an easy job, and a weird one.  Which one do you want to talk about first?"
T-shirt guy: "The weird one, of course."

So I explained what I wanted to do, and he said it couldn't be done.  But I nudged him.  I appealed to his sense of adventure.

T-shirt guy: "Get a plain all cotton bra, print the words repeatedly to cover a sheet of paper, and we'll see what we can do."

Did I mention the t-shirt guy looked like Elvis and played in a rockabilly hand?  I could tell he was slightly appalled by my unmanly request. 

A week later, I returned.  He was able to put the text on pieces of heat transfer paper, and add them to the bras I found at Marshalls.

T-shirt guy (holding the bra up to himself): "Look, I got the word "nipple" in exactly the right spot." 

Once in a while, when I

give a poetry reading, I'll wear my poetry bra...