Send me on my way



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.



Poetry & Honey – upcoming event!


On Friday Aug 19th at 7pm I’ll be reading poems at Follow The Honey (1132 Mass Ave) in Cambridge, MA. Stick around after for a wine tasting with Proud Pour!

Here’s the Facebook event link:

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The event is free. I’m making a whole bunch of handmade poetry chapbooks that will be for sale in exchange for any donation — all funds will help me attend the UN climate talks in Morocco this November as a youth delegate with SustainUS.

More updates to come! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

Here’s the full event description:


Poetry and honey together (and perhaps a spot of wine)?!?! OH YES.

Kick off National Honey Day events with a poetry reading by Devi Lockwood at Follow the Honey in Cambridge, MA. Stick around after for a wine tasting with Proud Pour.

Devi Lockwood is a poet / touring cyclist / storyteller from Boston. For the last two years she has been traveling the world by bicycle and by boat to collect 1,001 stories from people she meets about water and climate change.

Her journey began with the September 21, 2014 People’s Climate March in NYC. To date she has collected over 500 stories (audio recordings) in the USA, Fiji, Tuvalu, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Qatar. She is working to create a map on a website where you can click on a point and listen to a story someone has told her from that place.

Devi’s writing has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, Bicycling Magazine, Storyscape, BOAAT, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere — for a full publication list, see:

Devi is currently based in New Hampshire and will attend the November 2016 COP22 UN climate talks in Morocco as a youth delegate for SustainUS.

The reading is free. Handmade poetry chapbooks will be for sale at the event, with some old poems and some recent poems from the journey. Price is a sliding scale — whatever you can afford! Bring cash / spare change.

All funds raised will help Devi attend COP22, the UN climate talks in Morocco.

At the end of the event, Brian Thurber, the founder of Proud Pour, will be sampling his wine.


Proud Pour pairs high-quality wines with local environmental restoration. Proud Pour’s Sauvignon Blanc restores 100 wild oysters per bottle. Delicious + sustainable.

Looking forward to seeing you there!


“Learning to Scale Peaks From My Underprotective Mother”

Ya’ll. YA’LL.

I wrote an essay that was published yesterday for The New York Times.

It’s up on the Well Family Blog as part of a series on family relationships called Ties.


gorgeous illustration by Gisselle Potter

Here’s the full essay: 

Someone pinch me? I’ll be over here doing a happy dance.

Much love,



Interview with Percussionist Reynaliz Herrera

I had the great pleasure of meeting percussionist Reynaliz Herrera by pure chance in 2010. We made friends playing horseshoes at a barbecue near Fresh Pond and have stayed in touch ever since. Reynaliz is a creative spirit who inspires me to be my most genuine self. One of my favorite things to do in Boston is to bike to her apartment with a bag full of groceries, make dinner, and talk about John Cage.

“The plan is, there is no plan,” Reynaliz is fond of saying, “except to follow the things that I love.” And the world is better for her passion––Reynaliz approaches music making with the kind of fire that makes the world spin.

Here are two examples of that energy from her most recent composition and production, IDEAS, NOT THEORIES. The show explores the use of bicycles, tap, body percussion, water, marimbas, and drums.



What inspired you to start doing percussion? When did it happen?

At the age of twelve I suddenly became obsessed with the idea of becoming a singer and forming a band. However, I did not know how to play any instruments, sing, or read music. I had the idea that if I practiced by myself in my backyard using pots and pans, toy guitars and a fake microphone, that would make my dream come true. I would ask my sister (who didn’t know any music either) to be my bandmate. After a while of seeing this, my mom encouraged me to enter the Conservatory in Mexico. I attempted to do voice and I failed. My alternative was percussion and guitar. I took both and, in the end, percussion won my heart. Of course, I expanded from pots and pans to all the classical percussion instruments (marimba, xylophones, snare drums, timpani), world percussion (Congas, bongos, bata, etc.), and now, unconventional percussion, among them, bicycles.

Why do you make music?

Because I need to. I feel that being an artist is like being pregnant. When we express ourselves through art, music, words, etc., we give birth to whatever was inside. Music is my child.

What are you most proud of?

Of the ability to be genuine.

How did the idea for the Ideas Not Theories come about? What do you hope for people who listen to the piece?

Through my years in Music College people would ask me what my direction in music was going to be, I would always said I wanted to become a soloist, (it was the most concrete answer I could give), then they would ask what would exactly would I be doing, I would respond, “I don’t know I just want to be able to do my thing, whatever it is.” I knew I wanted to be myself, but I did not know what that was going to be like. I felt like people would want me to know what my “child” was going to be like, but I sort of knew I had to just let it come. Growing up, I played with my mother in her dance company in Mexico, she would inspire me to be creative and expand on using whatever I wanted to use. Later on at age sixteen I wrote my first two pieces of music, and continued writing. Ideas, Not Theories is the answer to those who asked me what exactly I wanted to do with music.

For people who listen to the piece I hope for them to just be open, and let the sound be an Idea, not a Theory.

What draws you to the bicycle as an instrument?

At first, it was necessity. The idea of playing on a bicycle came from going out to busk and not having a lot of instruments available. The bicycle was my solution. After I discovered I could do this, my inspiration was exploration: exploration of sound, movement and energy.

Who inspires you?

Anything can be a source of inspiration if you look at it the right way.

What is your favorite place on earth?

Greece, Paris, Cuba and Boston.



454_441537822595843_1156029855_nReynaliz Herrera is a professional musician, percussionist, composer, and educator. She was born in Monterrey, Mexico in 1984, where she studied music at the Escuela Superior de Musica y Danza with maestro Noel Savon. Reynaliz has performed and collaborated with The National Arts Center Orchestra of Canada, The Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, The Orchestre de la Francophonie Canadienne, The Boston Conservatory Orchestra, Mexican Dance Group: Danza Contemporanea en Concierto, and The Boston Opera Collaborative. Her solo works have been featured internationally in the United States, Mexico, Cuba, Canada, Spain, Italy, and Germany, and she has collaborated with prestigious artists such as Bob Becker, Evelyn Glennie, Ian Bernard, Pinchas Zukerman, Peter Sadlo, and Gunter Schuller. Reynaliz has been marimba and percussion soloist several times with The National Arts Center Orchestra of Canada (One of them Broadcasted by CBC Radio Canada National wide), and recently made an appearance at the concert series “My first NAC” performing one of her recent compositions.

Reynaliz holds a Bachelor of Music from The University of Ottawa where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and studied with Prof. Ian Bernard, former solo timpanist of the National Arts Center Orchestra. She recently graduated from The Boston Conservatory with a Master of Music in Percussion Performance where she studied with world-renowned percussionists like Nancy Zeltsman, Sam Solomon, John Grimes and Keith Aleo. Reynaliz’s international awards include The National Youth Award (Mexico, 2005 and 2009), The Festival Percuba’s International Percussion Competition in La Havana, Cuba (2002), The National Arts Center of Canada’s Bursary Competition (2005), and the MTV Latinamerica “Agent of Change Award” (2009).

Reynaliz is currently working on her own music project “IDEAS, NOT THEORIES” ©, an original performance show of Reynaliz’s compositions that makes use of bicycles and body percussion and has been performed, to date, in Mexico, the US and Canada. She is also the drummer of the alternative Boston-based rock band, Muy Cansado, with whom she recently performed at the SXSW festival in Austin TX. Reynaliz also works as a percussion teacher in the Somerville public school system. She also teaches at the Hamilton-Garret Music Academy and offers private lessons.

Any Excuse to Celebrate


Eden Brent sidles up next to me at my plastic chair in Doe’s Eat Place. Her boogaloo voice makes even the red and white squares on the checkered tablecloth come alive with music.

“I bet you wanted to sit next to a good lookin’ guy!” she chortles, loud and confident. “Well, I’ll tell you what: you got a good lookin’ girl instead.” Eden tilts her head back when she laughs and fills the whole room. Other diners pause with their forks halfway to their mouths or a knife in the air and stare. We don’t care. Our table is the length of the entire room and we are squished knee to knee to have a good time, to reconnect.

I met the loud, musical Brent family by accident, or trail magic, or just dumb luck. Everything is connected. In August 2013 I rode my bicycle down the Mississippi River Trail to collect stories from people I met along the way. I made a brief detour to Clarksdale, Mississippi at the suggestion of a librarian I met on the plane to Memphis.

“You won’t regret going to Clarksdale, honey,” she told me over the roar of takeoff, offering me a piece of minty gum. “It’s a must-go place. And plus, there’s a blues festival this weekend.” Sure enough there was music. And water. Lord, do I love water.

I ended up dehydrated in a farmer’s supply shop in Clarksdale after an unsuccessful attempt at finding my new friend Marc Taylor’s place on Old Highway 61. The two brothers who owned the place thought the sight of me with a loaded bicycle was a hoot.

“You’re all alone? And what does your mama think?”

The brothers handed me three bottles of icy water and we got to talking while sitting on lawn chairs inside the shop. Between sips of cool water––there’s nothing sweeter on a dry throat––I asked: “How does a combine work?”

It’s the questions that get me places.

As it turns out, one of the brothers lectures on agriculture at Delta State. My combine question sparked a two-hour detour in his white truck during which I learned about the difference between soybeans and milo and peanuts and the sticky, hexagonal bloom of a cotton flower. Seemingly anything could grow under the fertile umbrella of a delta sky––market prices drive which crops are planted, though. At the end of our trip the sun was arcing low and the brothers graciously dropped me off at my friend’s bright blue shack.

“Go see John Ruskey,” the youngest added, munching a toothpick between his teeth. “You’ll love Quapaw.”

“That place on Sunflower?” I asked, remembering a colorful, hand-painted sign I had passed earlier in the day. It looked closed.

“Just walk down by the river. You’ll find them there.”

Sure enough I did. John Ruskey a.k.a. Driftwood welcomed me into his basement-level office at the Quapaw Canoe Co. filled with life jackets and river maps and fossilized coral. His daughter, Emma, flitted about while strumming a mini guitar.

“I found a fish!” she exclaimed, running off to fetch its small body that she has preserved in salt. “It’s a bit stinky, but not too bad. Stinky, stinky, stinky!”

Driftwood rolled out a brightly colored map he had drawn of the Mississippi. The lines of the river have a dance of their own, arching smooth. The system is fed by fingers that reach into the east and west.

“You can stay upstairs at the International Youth Hostel if you’d like,” Driftwood said when it was time to go to the festival.

“How much does it cost?”

“Oh, you can stay for free.”

The Youth Hostel is a converted bar. Shellacked turtle shells and petrified mud and driftwood chandeliers beautify the space. There’s a perma-layer of rivermud on the floor that only adds to the hostel’s charm. I ducked in to drop off my panniers next to my bed for the night: a platform with a mattress on top that is suspended by fist-thick rope from a metal bar on the ceiling. It is fondly referred to as “The Floating Bed.”


While unpacking my sleeping bag I met the brilliant Chris Staudinger. Chris, a New Orleans native, was working at Quapaw for a jaunt after graduating from Boston College. We connected instantly.

“There are no straight lines in riverspeak,” Chris told me over a cup of sun tea spiked with lemon.

We went out dancing and bonded over the bliss that is pecan beer while questioning the gendered expectations of asking someone to dance. Meeting Chris set off a chain reaction of southern hospitality that followed me all the way down the river.

“Where do you go next?” he asked.

“Rosedale.” And so Chris texted his buddy David in Oxford whose parents, Becky and Bill, are from Rosedale. Can you take on a girl biking the river trail by herself? They said yes.

After a four-hour ride in the August sun, I was grateful for a big mattress to sprawl out on. Becky and Bill fed me toast and scrambled eggs spiced with homegrown jalapeños. I counted my lucky stars.

The next day was Sunday. Becky and Bill asked if I wanted to go to church and I said yes. Why not?

Before paying homage to God we paid homage to the river with an early-morning jaunt on a motorboat. Later that evening Bill showed me his Cabinet of Curiosities full of mastodon teeth and river glass and vertebrae, along with a bowling pin and unidentified metal bits he has collected from the river’s churning stomach.

Back on land, the pastor began her sermon by asking: “Now who needs praying for today?”

One woman’s mother was suffering from a malignant form of brain cancer. We sent prayers her way. I pictured my silent words soaring up above the pulpit and out one of the stained glass windows, over the soybean fields to find this woman in her bedroom. Every little bit helps.

Becky stood up next to me in the pew. “I just wanna say that I have this here girl here staying the night with me and she is riding her bicycle down the Mississippi River all the way to Venice. Do any of ya’ll know someone in Greenville she can stay with so that she doesn’t have to sleep on the side of the road? Bless her heart.”

Anne Martin popped up instantly. “I do! I do!” Anne waved both her hands as she spoke. I knew I had found a new friend. Anne worked for twenty years as an anchor at the local TV station in Greenville and knew most everyone in the town. Later on when we walked together in the Kroger grocery, people would stop her to ask if she was really the woman from TV. She always smiles and says politely, “Well yes I am. That was years ago, though.”

“We’ll have to introduce her to the Brents.”

Anne worked her magic and made a few phone calls. By sunrise I had a set of directions in my hand and instructions to call Jessica Brent once I passed the Winterville Mounds going south on the Mississippi Number One. “You can’t miss the mounds. It’s the only hill aside from the levee for miles.”

Jessica met me just outside the criss-crossed gate that marks her yard. When I pulled off the highway and into her driveway, Jessica took one look at me and said: “Girl, where are your lights?! Don’t you know people ‘round here drive drunk?” The next day she came back from Walmart with an orange reflective vest, a pair of red and white flashing lights, and reflective stickers, which we stapled all over the vest. I’m sure these safety measures saved my life. Farther down the road, I met truckers who had passed me miles before on their way to the grain elevators: “You were blinkin’, honey. Blinkin’ and blinkin’ and I could see you comin’ from far away.”

Jessica and I stayed in touch. I wrote her a postcard and she came to visit Boston in mid-October. We took the elevators to the observatory deck at the roof of the Science Center where you can see the brick of Harvard Square laid out like legos. A thick layer of fog obscured the Boston skyline, but I gestured to where it would be, the contours of the Charles River hidden beyond tall buildings.

One year later: we’re all around a table again, laughing like no time has passed. Doe’s has no menu. Jessica reaches across the table to explain. “You want a salad? You have to try the salad.”

Her father Howard jumps in with his hand on my shoulder, “Baby, you like shrimp, right? Now you want it broiled or fried?” Howard squeezes “baby” into every sentence like it is liquid gold, instant belonging.

I wish I could have met his wife, Carol. She brought music to the family, and it reverberates still.

Jessica orders two-dozen hot tamales and three T-bone steaks for the table for good measure.

The food comes and it smells beautiful. All of it. Even the French fries.

I tend to lose consciousness of my body when I’m engaged full-on in the act of listening, but at the sight and smell of the large platters, the hunger that had laid dormant in my stomach stands up to dance. The dipping sauce for the shrimp is garlicky and divine. I didn’t know I liked shrimp until I rode down to the Gulf and said yes to a fresh catch. Everything changes in proximity to the sea.

“Here honey, this is chocolate––” Eden says, feeding me a bite-sized piece of steak she has carefully selected. “––chocolate from a cow’s ass!”

The meat melts into my body. I can’t remember the last time I ate red meat. Good god.

Bronwynne, the third Brent sister, is seated at the far side of table outside of talking distance––there are boyfriends and family friends scattered in between us. I make sure to tell her that I love her music before I leave, how it sustained me through many a long afternoon of senior thesis writing last summer.

On my last night in Greenville last summer, the Brents called a party together at Hank Burdine’s place. We cooked red beans and rice and after the meal, the guitar came out, passed from hand to hand.

“I just think we needed a reason to celebrate,” Jessica told me in between glasses of wine. “And here you are.”

Interview with Anne Neely, the painter behind “Water Stories”

July 2014 – January 2015, 
Museum of Science, Boston

I’m not the only one thinking about storytelling and water in an artistic context, and thank goodness for that. We need more artists tackling these big questions––no one person can make a difference on their own. “My hope,” Neely writes, “is that this exhibition will spawn a new sense of ownership about not only the issues facing us about water but how we use water on a daily basis.”

The Water Stories exhibition at the Museum of Science, running now through January 5, 2015, combines Neely’s paintings with audio recordings taken from over 200 interviews edited by Halsey Burgund. There are five sections, each about seven minutes long, that feature different voices around the gallery space on topics of The Future, Cherishing Water, Water Stories, Bad Things, and the Science of Water. As a museum visitor moves throughout this space, they are invited to interact with the snippets of stories as they weave together and diverge. The last section is an alcove playing the voice of water itself.

Alchemy Soup, 70 x 92″, oil on linen, 2014

“I construct a painting like a poem. I find the rhythm and essential movement by beginning organically to build a structure through a series of marks and colors that become more connected to one another and to memory as the painting develops. I work in layers, washes, heavy gestural strokes, sweeps of the palette knife, and scratches, dots, and rectangles. A new stroke is like discovering a new word. The more I work on a painting the more physical I become until it feels like there is little distinction between where I leave off and where the painting begins. Although painting is personal, these paintings also address the ecological and ultimately cultural issues of our time as we fight over, transport, over use, pollute, dry up and neglect water.” – Anne Neely 

At the suggestion of a friend, I reached out to Neely to see if she might answer some questions on the intersection between water and storytelling in her paintings. Her responses are below:

(See all of the paintings in the exhibition here.)

PEAK 60X80

Peak, 60 x 80″, oil on linen, 2014

What do you think the role of art will be in pushing for meaningful measures to address climate change?

Throughout the centuries art has provided a means for people to look at things differently. Now is no exception as artists use their craft to draw attention to environmental issues. Nature has become a backdrop in our lives. Whatever artists feel inclined to do can only help bring Nature back into focus. I have always felt a bond towards the natural world and chose painting as a way to express this connection. Painting allows me to respond to and reinvent nature through color and form, and to explore uncharted territories of imagined landscapes. I choose water as a theme because water is essential and it speaks to me.
Why do you paint? How can paint tell a story? 

What motivates my work is to tell a story in paint and be compelling about it. Painting allows me to use my imagination to tell that story. Revealing that story through the filter of beauty and foreboding not only fascinates me but is essential. Water has always been anneneelygallerybeautiful to me even at its fiercest. The foreboding part has to do with what we have done
to sacrifice (for our comfort and benefit) the health and well being of our water resources. I use mark making as a language, much like a writer would use words to develop his characters. My goal is to construct a complex world and in so doing a painting is built. My hope with the Water Stories exhibition, currently at the Museum of Science in Boston, is that these paintings and interviews convey a reachable message about water for all who choose to look.


Lost (River), 56 x 72″, oil on linen, 2014

What draws you to water?

I am drawn to water because of its movement and myriad, ever changing ways of being. Water repeats itself in pattern but can change at any moment. It is powerful and gentle, soft and harsh: in essence, a string of opposites. I like the inside and the outside of it, how it surrounds us when we are in it and makes us one with it, merging metaphorically with the 80% of our bodies that contain water. Water is essential to our lives so it seems that if it is in peril we should pay attention to that.

Water Stories is up through January 2015 at the Museum of Science in Boston. I highly encourage you to check it out if you are in the area! I wish that I was in town myself. There will also be a talk and walk with the artist through the gallery on October 1st at 7:00. Admission free.

Watch more on Anne Neely’s process here:

How Do You Say Goodbye to a City?

I’m counting down the days until I leave this city: 20. No one told me that college would be the easy bit. Life since May 29th’s Commencement Ceremony has been evolving at breakneck pace. New routines, all of them temporary. I have to check myself from missing the person that I was, have to remind myself that growing is pain and confusion. It takes courage to leave relationships and places and things that no longer fit. Learning to welcome uncertainty is always a challenge.

Since May I moved out of a vibrant community of 32 undergrads who lived and cooked and cleaned together into a sterile single off of a hallway. My relationship with my significant other of a year fell apart. We grew apart. I helped raise a garden that keeps coughing out copious amounts of zucchini. I joined the November Project. I biked to the farthest corners of a city. I wrote postcards in all-caps to states I have never visited. I made sun tea in my orange Nalgene. I taught some thirty kids how to row. I got a cartilage piercing. All this while piecing flights together and calling up friends of friends who have visited Fiji, the place I will fly come October.

Now that I am into my last days in Boston I want to ask: how do you say goodbye? Most of what I love about the city has taken a different shape: the friends I once lived with have apartments and jobs elsewhere, the person I loved and I no longer speak, the community of rowers and co-opers and Folklore & Mythology concentrators I drew strength and inspiration from will, in all likelihood, never again be in the same place. There’s not a course catalog for this next step. I won’t be shopping classes. The Boston skyline at night is still arresting. How do you say goodbye?