Thank you so much for supporting this project. We reached the $1000 goal! Holy guacamole. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.
All additional funds at this point will be donated to the Vanuatu Red Cross. Feel free to give to their page directly: http://www.ifrc.org/en/get-involved/donate/ People in Vanuatu need this money way more than I do, esp. in the wake of Cyclone Pam.
I just wanted to get across the Tasman Sea––and now that dream is a reality! Thank you.
That said, if you would like me to write poems and send them to your mailbox, I am MORE than happy to do so. All the above rewards still stand. I will donate the money in excess of the $1000 goal directly to the Vanuatu Red Cross when this campaign ends. Stand by for that update :)
Hope this finds you well!
Keep on keepin' on.
POEMS TO GET DEVI (FLIGHT-FREE!) ACROSS THE TASMAN SEA
Hi beautiful people! My name is Devi and I'm a poet / touring cyclist / storyteller from Boston, USA, currently traveling the world, mostly by bicycle, to collect stories from people I meet about water and climate change.
I was recently interviewed about the project on Radio New Zealand:
This solo female touring cyclist is powered by words.
I'm raising funds to travel from Auckland, NZ to Melbourne, OZ aboard the ANL BINDAREE, a cargo ship. The passage takes six days (May 9-15, 2015) and costs US$1000.
I am going to be a Writer in Residence at Montsalvat from May 17 - July 6. During this time I will begin to process the audio recordings of water / climate change stories I have been making since I began this trip in September 2014 at the People's Climate March in New York City.
I'm also looking forward to having uninterrupted time to write poems––it can be hard to carve out long stretches of writing time when I am constantly on the road! And of course, it's always wonderful to be surrounded by a community of artists at work. Being around others is an essential part of my creative process.
While in Melbourne, I hope to gain some sailing experience so that I can make the rest of my way around the world (when I'm not cycling over land) as crew on a sailboat. That said, the Tasman Sea is one of the roughest sections of ocean in the world, and I'm eager to ease into sailing in *slightly* calmer waters. Or maybe just with the shore in sight. Ahoy!
I'm on a mission to collect 1001 stories from people I meet around the world about water and climate change.
At present I have recorded 248 total in the USA, Fiji, Tuvalu, and New Zealand. (www.onebikeoneyear.wordpress.com)
Why am I doing this?
It all comes back to a river.
In August, 2013, I rode my bicycle 800 miles following the Mississippi River Trail from Memphis, Tennessee to Venice, Louisiana.
Just north of Venice, on my second to last day of riding, I met a woman named Franny. When I stopped in front of her office to check the air in my bicycle tires, she invited me to get out of the afternoon sun. Over a shared plate of fried shrimp, Franny told me about 2012’s Hurricane Isaac that washed away her home and her neighborhood.
“We fight for protection of our levees. We fight for our marsh every time we have a hurricane.”
Despite skyrocketing insurance prices and the lack of attention that state government officials afford the area, Franny stands by her hometown. She and her husband moved back to their plot of land in a mobile home just a few months after the disaster. “I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else,” she confessed.
“Do you think there will come a time when people can’t live here anymore?” I asked.
“I think so. Not in my lifetime, but you’ll probably see it.” To imagine the road I had been biking on underwater was chilling.
Twenty miles further, I could see where the ocean laps over the road at high tide.
I'm 22 years old, and I believe that water and climate change are the defining issues of my generation.
I'm collecting stories because I believe that listening is the #1 gift I have to give to the world. Everyone has a story to tell. I want to hear it.
I have set myself the goal of collecting 1001 stories about water and climate change. I record audio when people are comfortable with it, and have plans to make a map on a website where you can click on a point and listen to a story someone has told me from that place.
It's slow work, but there is nothing I would rather be doing.
I have decided to give up flying because it is the single worst thing that I am doing for the planet.
I want to walk the talk.
I want to set an example for future generations of climate activists.
I want to travel slowly.
I want to write poems and send them to your mailbox.
And I need your help.
What's that? You want to know what kind of poems I write? Sweet as. Here are a few. The formatting might get a bit wonky, but that's alright:
A Lake in New Hampshire (originally published in Run to the Roundhouse, Nellie)
in memory of DD (1989 - 2013)
He went down in a moment,
flippers over head, to open
a freezer door he swore
was at the bottom of the lake.
No one saw him dive,
or we all did and later pretended
The blonde (not me)
deciphered his speech bubbles
as they came to the surface.
(She makes extra cash wrestling
women in a bar basement,
calf-deep in a pool of cherry Jell-O).
She dove in after him, past the roots
of the lily pads, decaying logs––
the jelly of the mud of the earth.
She found his legs above his head,
his eyes rolled back.
This from the stem of my heart:
two days later I was mourning
at a subway station alone,
watching people. Before me
a woman was cutting off
all her hair in pieces.
No mirror. She used a pair
of orange kitchen scissors,
left each tuft in a current
of wind. Satisfied
with the general feel of it,
she stumbled into the light,
cell phone in hand, to take a selfie,
judge the result.
I will never be brave enough
to cut my own hair, to
bring scissors to the bottom of the lake.
Can I cut off your lips
to save the rest of you?
The Distance Between Two Points (originally published in Verse Wisconsin)
I want to go to the place
where my hair is blown
into little yellow dotted lines
speckling the I-84 over
your hip bone,
jagged at the on-ramp.
Where am I going
to find you?
On the dark side of the map,
lacing my fingers behind accordion folds,
rest-stops I call my own.
I love your geography,
the way you leave pieces
of yourself on thruways:
orange peels tossed from the window––
my fingers sweetened
with now-withered rinds.
Sugar, Cars, and Masculinity (originally published in Clockhouse)
Lord, the muscle.
Weave me a man with muscles
I can hold and cradle at night.
Let his pecs be brawny let him
be able to bench my weight and make
mushroom omelets. Oh and also,
Lord, before we rest
in the floodplain of
each other’s arms,
let the quality of his movement
be a student protest, a
U.S. bomber drill, a mass rally
in support of a call to arms.
Let my man be an army. Let strict controls
keep the customers
from draining their accounts. I want
my man to unfold. I want
the root causes of this violence
hidden. Let the spirits ready
rockets in response and let the rockets
barrel out thousands no millions
of papier-mâché mantis shrimp.
Let no one be angry. Let our bodies
be at war. Let me throw bombs
into the hoop above the hoop above
the signpost above the bank. Let there be a dragon.
Let us flip a coin brought back from Europe
to decide who will live and let
the next transatlantic evacuation flight have
passengers and let the passengers have credit scores
taped to their foreheads.
Let us apply the human vocabulary of movement
to the living things of the sea.
Let me be in a bikini and he in a suit.
Let our bodies not fit.
If my hands were grape vines
they would grow towards his.
what do you look like what do you wear
what did you tell yourself this morning in the mirror
if you could would you change any part of your body
do you have a favorite season
are you in love what do you love
do you often ask questions are you told that you talk too much
do you consider yourself a feminist how do men respond to you
what is your work can you see the world through another’s eyes
what does that look like
when choosing a seat around an oval table
surrounded by eleven others
would you sit in the same chair every day
would you change your response
based on the gender of those eleven individuals
tell me about your mother
what do you share how are you different
what barriers have you overcome where do you feel most comfortable
who are your role models what do they look like
do you wash the dishes are you free
In the coming months I have poems forthcoming in three publications:
BOAAT, “What’s the Point of Shaving Legs Anyway?”
Adrienne, “May, 2012”, “A Ticket Out,” “Tall Prayer,” “(outer ear)”
Storyscape, “I Was,” “The Water is Happy to See Us,” “What I Might Remember Before I Die”
For a sample of the kind of hand-written work I do (complete with wildflowers and origami cranes) please see: http://anincompletecatalogofthanks.tumblr.com/
Risks and challenges
I'm taking a BIG risk here––committing to not flying while I work on this project to collect 1001 stories about water and climate change. And I'm really nervous about it.
Travel culture is not built to accommodate people like me. It's about 1000x easier to log on to the internet and book a flight than it is to figure out passage aboard a cargo ship or sailboat.
Flights don't have a fuel tax. The cost of a flight doesn't accurately reflect the burden that those carbon emissions place on the planet. And that's just the tip of the proverbial melting iceberg.
I want to set an example.
for climate activists
for all of us
for the future.
We need to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels, to transition to a largely fossil-fuel-free economy.
"Only 5 per cent of the world's population has ever flown. Flying is still a rich person's pastime. Poor people in poor countries don't do it. Yet these are the very communities that will be hit first, and most acutely, by climate change." - John Stewart, in Beyond Flying (Green Books, 2014)
Climate change is an environmental justice issue, and I am doing my best to take a stand.
And who are those most affected by climate change?
(It's not the people who are able to buy their way out of their problems. I'll tell you that much).
My goal not to take flights could fail. I could have to fly in case of an emergency.
But if I have the option to take a ship or to take a plane, I want to take the ship. To give myself permission to move slowly in a culture that glorifies speed. To wander purposefully. To collect stories from those crew members aboard the ANL BINDAREE who spend their working lives at sea.
I am nervous that as a woman pursuing her dreams, I will be targeted for my beliefs.
But I am not afraid of that.
I just bicycled over Arthur's Pass in the South Island of New Zealand, 920m in the air, despite the fact that many folks along the way told me that it would be too steep to pedal up.
Looking at some of those hills, I'll tell you––I was nervous. Heart-pounding nervous. The shoulder was narrow and my legs wanted to stop.
But I don't let fear rule me. I look at fear––of climate change, of all the shit that could happen to me for being a woman––and I continue moving.
Because movement is the language I come from. And the only way I know to get around an obstacle is to keep on creating. To let the movement of my body guide the movement of my mind.
Please, if you deny the science behind climate change, know that I want to hear from you, too. All stories matter. If we meet, I want to hear your voice.
... but not in a way that attacks me personally or attacks my work. The internet can be a difficult place to be a woman. Let's all work on changing that culture, okay?
In the words of Margaret Atwood:
"I think calling it climate change is rather limiting. I would rather call it the everything change because when people think climate change, they think maybe it’s going to rain more or something like that. It’s much more extensive a change than that because when you change patterns of where it rains and how much and where it doesn’t rain, you’re also affecting just about everything. You’re affecting what you can grow in those places. You’re affecting whether you can live there. You’re affecting all of the species that are currently there because we are very water dependent. We’re water dependent and oxygen dependent."
–– Margaret Atwood, in an interview with Slate
- (30 days)