The Backpacker Poem Project

11 Aug

Saying goodbye to Cusco was hard (it gets harder every time), but I have a few more places I would like to visit before I return to Europe in October. Just a quick note to the people who have been asking: Yes, I am coming back. I’ll be in Germany in November. I’m planning some readings for Ulm, trying to organise a few other cities, and have set a publishing deadline for Qayqa. I’ll say more on that soon!

This week I’m in Lima. This city has always been good for sinking into my brain-bog to Think. I spent the last few days writing a backpacker poem. Ironically, in order to write it, I locked myself up and didn’t leave the house for a few days… And with the poem came the idea for a project with YOU, which I explain in this video:

The Backpacker Poem:

When love left love left nothing left – so I left

I exchanged my life for a dormitory bed

For the road, parks with free WiFi

And I forgot how to write about people like you


I was fine forgetting, fine letting the weather decide

When I should do my laundry

Joyful that my wealth was the landscapes around me


I recognised how long other travelers had been on the road

By the bracelets they wove

I knew if they had been to the Andes

By the sweaters they wore


A species of our own

Instead of kilometers, we measure in weeks

Instead of watches, we consult altimeters


We know our passport numbers by heart

We eat dinner because digesting gives our bodies warmth for the night

“You have me to warm you now.”

I had forgotten things like that.


No, I haven’t seen my heart in a long time

I killed my passport to that side of the planet
My pen gained weight

And forgot how to write about people like you


Other than writing THANK YOU on hostel walls

Other than signing my name at border crossings

My pen had little exercise

But you began to remind me


Remind me of the various names lovers have for ‘kisses’

Remind me how secrets become pillow-talk

How cooking becomes companionship


So I move closer on the globe to you

Reach your country I don’t have a map for

Remind me you’ll carry my backpack when I arrive

Remind me you’ll tell other people about the way that I smile


Travel agencies know all the romances,

Know all the lovers’ names and passport numbers

We postpone your flight – my flight

Remind me of reasons to unpack


We’ll teach English at a local school

Live on the beach and sell bracelets to tourists

We don’t need much in a country that’s warm

Home is far away – why leave paradise to go there?


And if you leave, my life will still fit into my backpack

You’ll take a bus out of town, say, “I haven’t seen Bolivia.”

I’ll say I felt paradise on the road – but the road didn’t end there


A flight back home – hot water, the Internet

Traffic lights that remind me of juggling

Sunny days that remind me to do my laundry


A bracelet that reminds me

That it wasn’t all a dream –

That when I went on the road to forget

The road rose up to remind me.

When you have chosen a line, verse or bit that you identified with, record yourself reading it and share it with me using WeTransfer. (We’re no longer sharing over Dropbox)

To share, go to (your video file must be sent to:

THANK YOU @AndreasUsenbenz for all his amazing help!

The One Rule:  Be respectful of other peoples’ contribution. I will check the Dropbox folder as often as I can and save all videos onto my computer so that none are lost. Remember: if you delete something from Dropbox, it’s deleted for everyone. Watch out!

Deadline:  3rd September 2012. You have over 3 weeks!

What You Get in Return:  I’ll edit a short video of everyone around the world reading the poem and publish it on this blog, Facebook, YouTube and make it available for everyone who contributed. If you want, at the start of the video you can tell me your name, profession and where you currently are, and I’ll include the info. If you want.

  • This is an open project. If you know someone who might be interested, get them to join in!
  • You don’t have to be backpacking to participate. If this project interests you, join us! 
  • You also have 100% freedom with the presentation of your video! You can recite the lines – you can sing your lines, play a song instead. Dance. Film a scenario you think applies to the lines you chose. Anything goes. Let your mind soar.
  • It will be wicked fun!

If you have any questions or ideas, get ’em to me:

Twitter:  @RittiSoncco  |  Facebook:  Ritti Soncco  |  Website:

While you think about how much fun you’ll have recording yourself, and how wicked the final film will be with contributions from all over the world… Here are some nice pictures from last week:

off to the Pacha Mama Festival in the Sacred Valley. We had no tent but we had a large blanket!

the rickety bridge to the festival

local kids watching the hippies float in and out

the Pacha Mama festival took place in a labyrinth of abandoned houses, and hippies have to paint everything!

the yoga tent / chill-out dancefloor

aerial tissue workshop at the festival

brilliant contact staff performance

the road leaving the festival

1st August: celebrating the Andean New Year in Cusco with Q’eros priests

a despacho: offering to Pacha Mama (Mother Earth)

saying goodbye to Cusco: the San Blas Fountain at night

9 bus hours later: Hello Arequipa! Hello Misti volcano!

the Plaza at night: a public opera performance to celebrate Arequipa’s anniversary

I’ll write more before I hop back on the road next week. I haven’t forgotten that I promised to post an extract from Munay so that you can see how she’s coming along… Until then, please please help me promote the Backpacker Poem Project!

I wish you miles and miles of fun recording your contribution! I can’t wait to see you all, what setting you choose for the video, how you’ll do it, and which piece you’ll choose to record! ♥ I hope you have a lot of fun doing it. In the end we’ll have a sweet little video with voices from around the world…! Thank you so much in advance for your enthusiasm. ♥


4 Responses to “The Backpacker Poem Project”

  1. Andreas Usenbenz August 13, 2012 at 7:43 am # Backpacker Poem Project

    • rittisoncco August 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

      Thank you so much for your patient help! Don’t know how I would have done it without you. I just put it in the post. Hopefully all works now.


  1. Legends of Last Week « Rit'i Sonq'o: The Life of a Writer - August 27, 2012

    […] THANK YOU ♥, all of you, for your overwhelming responses to my Backpacker Poem Project. ♥ Thank you ♥ for your videos, for your sweet words of support, for the laughs. I’ve had […]

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