Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wearing your heart on your chest

I, like the rest of America, am a big fan of the T-shirt. It's comfortable, versatile, and capable of expressing the inexpressible and/or telling folks up front, "This is who I am" or "This is part of who I am" or "I don't get it either." Take, for example, the gentleman I saw at a bar wearing a shirt that read: "I'm not a gynecologist, but I'll take a look." At first glance such a message might be interpreted as "asshole," as in the guy wearing said shirt must be one. And maybe he is. But also, just maybe, he's saying, "Ladies, I'm not the kind of guy who judges a woman by her sores, oozing, labial deformities, etc. Come as you are." Though probably he was just an asshole.

That said, I've noticed that there aren't a lot of poetry t-shirts out there. Perhaps that's because poetry, unlike sports or Hannah Montana, is wildly unpopular. Still, I am always on the look out for poetry shirts and thought I would share a few here with you.


Take this haiku shirt by Threadless, for example. It's witty, hip and only $15.
Plus, if you like it, you should definitely be sure to check out this haiku comic.


Threadless also has a Shakespeare shirt that always makes me smile. In fact, the phrase "Shakespeare Hates Your Emo Poems" pops into my head quite often.The only reason I don't own this shirt is that, well, I don't really dig Shakespeare all that much. And if that makes me lose all credibility, well, suck it.


I do, however, own a T-shirt with this image of Emily Dickinson on it from the Academy of American Poets even though the amount of Emily Dickinson's work I've read is scandalous. I saw it at their booth at AWP and couldn't really resist. Once at a fabric store while waiting for my wife a woman looked at the shirt and looked at me and said, "Is that you?" At first I didn't know what she was talking about, then I realized I was wearing my hair in a loose pony tail and wearing this shirt. "Uh, no. That's Emily Dickinson," I said. This is not the first time I've been mistaken for a dead famous person. My wife's grandmother once thought a post card of Janis Joplin was a photograph of me. Perhaps it's the universe's way of telling me I need a hair cut.


If you don't like Ms. Dickinson, you can get the same shirt with Walt Whitman on it. I'd gladly wear it, only I fear being mistaken for him, too, and that would be a lot harder on my psyche. They also have a red T-shirt with a quote from Whitman ("And our visions, the visions of poets, the most solid announcements of any"), but it's not really my thing. It feels a wee bit self-important.


Gwendolyn Brooks fans can nab a T-shirt from the Academy of American Poets that looks like it was bought from a souvineer store in Key West. It's not especially "cool" though your mom might like it if she plays pool and sells Mary Kay.

There's a Cafe Press site that has a lot of poetry T-shirts. Some of them are ugly but well-intentioned, some are really lame, while others are actually pretty cool. And I have to admit, the one that says Puns are bad but poetry is verse makes me laugh. I don't think I'd wear that shirt, but I would consider putting that bumper sticker on my car. If there was any room.

If you know of any other poetry shirts, send them my way (by way of emailing me a link. Though if you insist, I usually wear a women's medium).

3 comments:

Laura said...

I love the haiku shirt! Though I'm really more of a limerick girl...

Laura said...

http://pets.cafepress.com/item/sylvia-plath-dog-tshirt/273422902

elizabeth said...

So into the Dickinson shirt! Also the fact that you were mistaken for her.