About Devi Lockwood

Devi K. Lockwood is a poet / touring cyclist / storyteller currently traveling the world by bicycle and by boat to collect 1,001 stories from people she meets about water and/or climate change.

GoViral 2018 – Almaty, Kazakhstan

GoViral was a whirlwind: a three-day festival in Almaty, Kazakhstan (June 15-18, 2018) focused on innovation of all stripes.

IMG_1276.jpg

listening is my jam

This is only the second year that the festival has been up and running, and I was floored by what the US Consulate General in Kazakhstan has been able to pull off. It was an honor to be a part of that magic––not just the official events, but all the side conversations that happened as a result of lots of people with ideas and passions gathering together.

IMG_1070.JPG

door to the US Maker Space in Almaty

I gave a talk in the opening ceremony about poetry, and the unraveling of my 4-year journey so far (video here).

IMG_1273.JPG

ye olde opening slide, complete with cardboard aesthetic (am I predictable? yes)

In preparing for the keynote I realized that I don’t know if I’m still a poet. Poetry is the place I come from, the soil I grew up in, but not necessarily where I’m going.

As I do this project for longer––going on 4 years this September (if you count the beginning as the NYC People’s Climate March), or 5 years come August (if you count the beginning as my bicycle journey down the Mississippi River)––I find myself transitioning out of poems and into multimedia forms that let each storyteller speak in their own voice, rather than having my words reinterpret theirs.

Audio / image / creative nonfiction: the 1,001 Stories project continues to take on a shape and form of its own.

Poetry will always be a homeland I return to. For now: here’s to movement & play.

35295901_469086546875911_2162720486864191488_o

fun fact: I did a whole lot of dancing backstage to calm nerves before delivering this talk

After the opening ceremony I presented on three panels alongside some superstar activists and writers from Central Asia & beyond.

Art communities and creative industries changing modern cities: with Aida Sulova, Asya Tulesova, and Anisa Sabiri. Moderated by Galina Koretskaya.

Seeing other people’s worlds: travel writing that goes deeper than the surface: with Tynan and Jeff Miller. Moderated by Anuar Nurpeisov.

How to use storytelling for social change: with Denis Bihus, Mary Mitchell, and Lara Stolman. Moderated by Madi Mambetov.

(All presentations were dubbed in Russian & will be uploaded in English in the coming weeks).

IMG_1278.jpg

Big thanks to my Harvard classmate Didar KM for inviting me to be a part of the festival.

(Fun fact: we took Deborah Foster‘s class “The Art of Storytelling” together freshman year, the course that made me decide to study Folklore & Mythology in the first place. Best decision I ever made).

If you haven’t already, go check out Didar’s comics: Abai Cartoons. Seriously awesome stuff.

Other things that were wonderful / that I don’t want to forget:

A) Dancing backstage with the best volunteer anyone could dream of working with (Yekaterina Kolessina!)

IMG_1286.jpg

caught in a rare moment of stillness (most of the time we were dancing / discussing politics)

B) climbing the big mountain that overlooks Almaty with Anuar Nurpeisov and Ben Yu. We saw a sideways rainbow, and miraculously did not fall.

Hi, my name is Devi and I was raised by mountaineers. Sometimes I like to climb 🌈

A post shared by Devi Lockwood (@devi_lockwood) on

and C) making a whole lot of audio recordings on water and climate change in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan: 29, to be exact.

Backstory:

For ten days before the festival I journeyed to Lake Balkhash, Kazakhstan and Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan alongside translator Qanat and photographer Sardar. We listened to stories about everything from cotton farming in the USSR to the Aral Sea to the legend of Issykul Lake’s formation and what it’s like being a woman who runs a bottled water business (and how a lack of infrastructure maintenance has necessitated bottled water consumption in the first place).

One of these stories, told by a storyteller who grew up in Afghanistan, ripped me open & reaffirmed my conviction that we need to create more spaces to talk about water. Water is life, and a lack of access to clean water can be deadly. More on that in the future.

DSC08793.JPG
The sometimes frustrating, sometimes amazing, always a learning experience magic of translation A.K.A. linguistic triangulation. (Step one: listen. Step two: listen again) 

We translated the cardboard sign into Russian…

IMG_1084

there’s a spelling error hidden somewhere in here –– we fixed it later

… with materials provided by a friendly fruit seller in Balkhash:

IMG_1085

that’s journey photographer Sardar shaping the cardboard sign in-progress

The stories I recorded in Central Asia will be available eventually on the 1,001 stories map. Stay tuned for updates!

DSC08721.jpg

Yours truly. Photo by Sardar.

This was my first time documenting stories while accompanied by three dudes (translator, photographer, driver). It changed parts of the trip, but not the whole thing.

If nothing else, it was a relief to be able to bring up Rebecca Solnit‘s book “Men Explain Things to Me” in the confined space of a bumpy van ride, and not be attacked for being a feminist. Referencing that book on a van ride from Laos to Cambodia two years ago brought about physical violence. (Again, more on that later, perchance –– that’s the subject of another thing).

IMG_1086

toilet block on the way to Balkhash. ladies to the left.

Lake Balkhash itself was stunning, and also a site of great ecological complexity / layered histories. Half the lake is salt, half is fresh, and the shores are filled with great people to talk to.

IMG_1097.JPG

@ a place where lines blur

Sardar shot material for a 20 minute film about my journey to document human stories on water and climate change, feat. music by Kazakh composer Kuat Shildebayev.

Cultural Curator Timur Nusimbekov, creator of Adamdar, edited the film, and did a whole lot of organizing backstage to make all of this come together (planning events in Balkhash, Bishkek, and Almaty). Timur, you rock.

I’ll post the link here when it goes live.

UPDATE: the film will be shown in Kazakhstan at the Almaty Indie Film Festival!

ololo.jpg
Photo by Sardar

In the process of recording material in Balkhash, I realized how little I know about the Soviet Union, and all that has happened after.

I asked lots of questions. (Stories are doors. I like doorways).

IMG_1115.jpg

Also: let’s talk for a second about architecture. Soviet buildings stick around long after the USSR itself has crumbled. Balkhash city was built about 80 years ago, and the bones of the town are still strongly reminiscent of that era.

IMG_1121.JPG

From Balkhash we zoomed to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan for an action-packed weekend. I gave two talks at Chicken Star, hands down the finest chicken/coffee/art establishment I have ever stepped inside.

IMG_1202.JPG

Seriously –– I love this place. Not for the chicken (although I hear that it is indeed quite good), but for the community.

If you ever find yourself in Bishkek, Chicken Star is not to be missed.

The founder, Chihoon Jeong, is the kind of person who can intuit what kind of drink you need before you even know that you need it. What a gift.

IMG_1161

talks on talks –– taste the joy?

Kyrgyzstan at sunset is its own kind of gorgeous.

IMG_1181.jpg

Like any responsible story collector, I did my best to see things from different perspectives.

IMG_1210

handstands are fun

In sum: it was a blur of a two weeks…

IMG_1249.JPG

moments before being eaten by a cloud, on the way up to Big Almaty Peak

… filled w/ beauty of a distinctly Central Asian variety:

IMG_1266.JPG

water is life (Almaty, KZ)

For now: the journeys continue.

IMG_1268.JPG

upwards & downwards & upwards again

Big thanks to the storytellers who talked to me about water / climate & the GoViral event organizers who pulled off the near-impossible feat of gathering so many fascinating people from around the world in one place.

IMG_1295.JPG

If you have the opportunity to attend or speak at this festival: go. You won’t regret it.

IMG_1068.jpg

until soon –– over & out

Advertisements

Just in time for Earth Day…

A beta version of the 1,001 Stories map app is live! Give it a download & let me know what you think.

IMG_0867 (1)

iOS:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/1001-stories/id1373515681?ls=1&mt=8

Google Play:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.realizedsound.thousandOneStories

IMG_0868 (1)

This is a work in progress, so don’t hesitate to let me know what you like / don’t like / what you want to see more of.

1001stories

Backstory:

You know how I’ve been recording stories about water & climate change for the last 4 years in 16 counties?

(Stories recorded: 750 // Goal: 1,001)

It’s high time to share these stories with the world. Here are 10 from the journey so far. In the coming weeks / months, more will be released, so watch this space.

A podcast is on the back-burner, too! I’ve mapped out 12 episodes and will take a deep dive into production soon. Stay tuned.

A massive thank you to Joshua Parmenter for developing this app, Jonathan Ekman-Mille for his ongoing work on a web version, Max O’Brien for designing the logo, and the interns at Northeastern University Experiential Network for lots of help in putting field notes into spreadsheets this winter.

P.S. If you’re keen to collaborate, reach out!

Mississippi River bike trip-aversary!

GUESS WHAT?!

It’s my 4 year end-of-first-bike-trip-aversary!

2013-08-17 17.39.52

Zooming on the Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi.

That journey by the numbers: 

1 month 

(August 2013)

800 miles from Memphis, Tennessee to Venice, Louisiana

2013-08-04 14.18.36

I started just south of the star and pedaled to the southernmost end of blue

 
2 nights camping inside a fire station
2013-08-06 07.34.20

night 1 in Arkansas

2013-08-26 21.33.45

night 2 in Louisiana

2013-08-26 21.29.45

There weren’t any fires so I got to try on the gear at Plaquemine’s.

26 nights people took me in 

My favorite sleeping spot was possibly the Floating Bed at Quapaw Canoe Company, designed by Chris Staudinger. Not pictured: copious amounts of driftwood that decorate the space.

2013-08-10 08.40.05

I thought it was a southern hospitality thing, but people have been taking me in all over the world in the years since –– I don’t know how to possibly repay this gift, but once I have a place of my own there will always be a futon for travelers.

1 cardboard sign 

2013-08-09 21.14.05

Recording audio stories at the Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival

1 time I held a mastodon tooth 

2013-08-12 13.19.10

Thanks, Howard Brent! Howard took me out on a Sunday river boat ride with his friend Hank, too. He showed me how the river washes up a whole treasure box of things, like the skeleton of this boat.

Despite the best attempts of the Army Corps of Engineers, the Mississippi’s banks are always moving and jumping.

2013-08-11 08.21.32

1 night dancing at Reds in Clarksdale 

2013-08-09 01.24.18

This saxophone player’s jacket is the inspiration for the neon vest that I wear while cycling…

poetvest

made in New Zealand, March 2015

I embroidered myself a pair of poet pants in New Zealand, too.

poetpants

But back to the Mississippi River Trail… this was my home office that month.

I did a fist pump every time I saw one of these signs. MRT!!!

2013-08-10 14.10.51

That August 2013 I recorded 50 hours of stories.

I didn’t know what I was doing, but it felt right.

2013-08-20 15.01.27

I love everything about this quote except for the gendered pronoun.

2013-08-25 19.49.56

Nightfall in NOLA

2013-08-26 17.20.47

piles from Hurricane Isaac (2 years previous) at the side of the road, somewhere south of New Orleans on the way to Venice

2013-08-08 17.16.04

Cotton, growing

2013-08-08 16.56.57

Combine

2013-08-07 11.49.47

2013-08-31 06.14.50

Music comes out of the water, I think.

Stop what you’re doing and go listen to the Shotgun Jazz Band. No, really. The night I spent listening to them in New Orleans was simply sublime.

endoftheroad.jpg

I chased after a car to get this picture taken at the End of the World, the place where Louisiana Highway 23 meets the Gulf of Mexico.

2013-08-27 19.12.12

If you’re wondering where the One Bike One Year logo came from, now you know: The End of the World / Venice, Louisiana.

2013-08-27 19.11.35

There were places in Venice where water laps over the road at high tide.

I’ll have to check when I’m back stateside to see if I can find the hard-drive with those audio stories on it. It would be interesting to listen.

2013-08-21 15.04.52

I’m immensely grateful to all the storytellers who have propelled me around this planet a few times since… I couldn’t keep going without the 700+ people who have taken the time to share a piece of their lives with me.

2013-08-23 14.51.01

Here’s to water stories, climate change stories, and everything in between.

2013-08-08 19.52.17

Stay tuned for more updates about 1,001 Stories in the months to come. I have 700+ audio stories from the last three years to share… still working on format, but a podcast might be bubbling on the back-burner.

xo from Stockholm,

Circus is Not Dead

tenacious

waist-high dandelions at roadside, Montreal

Two weeks ago I was in Montreal connecting with Jeremie Robert, a super-talented acrobat and circus performer currently performing with Compagnie XY.

Jeremie and I met through his work with ArtCirq, an indigenous circus in Igloolik, Nunavut, Canada.

I have been applying for grants to travel to Nunavut for about two years now (still no luck) and would love to write about these performers in the Arctic. It’s super-expensive to get to the far north, though.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Image via ArtCirq

Climate change is occurring in the Arctic twice as fast as in the rest of the globe, with a predicted 5 to 7 degree Celsius temperature rise in the next century.

Igloolik is a community on the front-lines of climate change, and also a place deeply invested in the healing powers of performance art. I can’t imagine a better place to record stories.

What is circus, anyway?

I asked this question to a Compagnie XY acrobat at a barbecue a few nights before their first show.

“Almost anything can be circus in the right context,” she said, “and there are whole theoretical classes at circus school devoted to this exact question. Circus art is something that you have to train and study for years in order to perfect.”

(I’m familiar with this line of questioning, though I’m usually on the receiving end of it: What is Folklore & Mythology?“)

Circuses are generally performed in round tents, too––or so I learned from a mini-exhibition at TOHU.

Ringling Bros. is dead, but circus is not. Modern circuses don’t have animals. It’s more about skill and training than flashy oddities.

flying

A post shared by Devi Lockwood (@devi_lockwood) on

If I decide to go to grad school in the coming years, Performance Studies is a field I’m considering. I love the idea of wrestling with the circus question, and interviewing / writing about performers in this sphere.

👣

A post shared by Devi Lockwood (@devi_lockwood) on

 

Montreal though, what a place. Light tastes different in every city.

circus-ing

A post shared by Devi Lockwood (@devi_lockwood) on

My favorite thing to do in Montreal was just wander.

c'est moi

A post shared by Devi Lockwood (@devi_lockwood) on

Montreal is spiral staircases on the outside of homes.

(I love walking up and down these kinds of stairs. It feels like being inside of a seashell.)

island full of curvy staircases

A post shared by Devi Lockwood (@devi_lockwood) on

…long afternoons in the park, eating fruit and watching the world go by,

long summer days mean more time for adventures 🌞

A post shared by Devi Lockwood (@devi_lockwood) on

… rainbows everywhere,

🌈

A post shared by Devi Lockwood (@devi_lockwood) on

I will take all the rainbows, please 🌈

A post shared by Devi Lockwood (@devi_lockwood) on

… and of course, poutine. (Pro tip: poutine tastes best after drinking local beer in the park with a new friend, and will keep you full forever & ever.)

baby's first poutine 👍🏽

A post shared by Devi Lockwood (@devi_lockwood) on

I think I’m falling in love with public spaces / places where people can picnic. Afternoon light. Fists full of blueberries — blue blessings.

Montreal is full of bicycles. Jeremie let me borrow his for the week.

borrowing my friend's 🚲to explore the city on 2 wheels

A post shared by Devi Lockwood (@devi_lockwood) on

In attending a few performances at Montreal Completement Cirque, I learned that I’m fascinated with flying… maybe because I know it is something my body won’t do.

Is it too late to learn?

#rouge #montrealcompletementcirque

A post shared by Devi Lockwood (@devi_lockwood) on

Why do I travel?

To see more fully. To be surprised. To search for the blessing that sits just outside of my comfort zone. To begin over and over again.

When I travel to a new place, the days are long. Empty and waiting to be filled.

A post shared by Devi Lockwood (@devi_lockwood) on

 
Before I left the states I bought myself two rings, one for the middle finger on each hand. My left hand is a tree, to remind me to stay grounded:

growing roots

A post shared by Devi Lockwood (@devi_lockwood) on

The right is a feather for flying free. Serendipity.

When I visit a city, there are always layers––the detritus of cities I have been. The shape of houses in Montreal is not unlike DC. The parks that make me breathe deeper remind me of Paris. And anywhere I feel disoriented in language has an odd similarity––I could be in Fiji, or Tuvalu, or Thailand again.

I’m grateful for the sense of dislocation that not knowing a local language can provide. I get lost in the recesses of myself that I didn’t realize were still there.

I am the postcard monster.

A post shared by Devi Lockwood (@devi_lockwood) on

Montreal, I’ll be back. I want to connect with the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling (COHDS) this fall, where I have been an affiliate for three years.

… and maybe find some Canadian folks to collaborate with on the audio map in progress.

cautionworkinprogress

still one of my favorite signs — spotted in Suva, Fiji, 2014

More soon. Here’s to living the questions.

~

 

Send me on my way

LET THE ADVENTURES BEGIN!

vermontgreen

2.5 months around the 🌎  for climate / water stories (of course), starting now:

Montpelier –> Montreal –> Chengdu –> Beijing –> Copenhagen –> Stockholm –> Chicago –> Boston

Goals for this trip:

  • Record water / climate change stories in each place
  • Learn whatever it is that the journey has to teach me
  • Get more comfortable taking portrait photographs

I bought a used DSLR camera & I’m learning my way around the different settings / breaking through the shyness that I have of photographing people.

This is my friend Cora Brooks in Montpelier, VT. She writes poems and taught me how to bake bread.

We met 5-ish years ago through the archives at the Schlesinger Library, where I was doing a research project on poets who have their papers archived there.

I started alphabetically by last name, elbow deep in grey boxes and filing folders. After a few weeks I realized that Cora was still alive (most people donate their papers only after they’ve passed).

I wrote her a letter. She wrote back. We’ve been writing each other letters ever since.

I’ve visited Cora in Montpelier a few times over the years, and every visit is a new kind of magic. Today we walked to town and ate beetroot and orange gelato.

Cora teaches me how to enjoy slowness. Her home is full of words. She has a cat whose name changes every time I visit. Last time he was Zebra Tattoo. Today he is Barcelona.

Here’s to intergenerational friendships.

Stay tuned for more. I’m looking forward to updating you all from the road.

xo,
D

Collaborations are the Best

Back in February I met Rosie Summers and some of her Leeds College of Art classmates at a Greenpeace Leeds meeting in the UK.

They asked if they could animate one of the water / climate change stories that I recorded. They chose a story from Noelline Gillies, a woman in her 80s from Omarama, New Zealand who I recorded in 2015.

Here’s a trailer of the result.

I am so, so happy with their work! Enjoy.