Tag Archives: love

What Other Artists Are Doing

5 Sep
urban pole at the International Potato Center

urban pole at the International Potato Center

Dear ayllu,

In a few days, I’ll be flying back to Scotland and from what I’ve heard from my friends, the welcoming parties for the new students are already starting in full swing. The day after I land, I will be running to registration offices… attending the Freshers’ Fair, where our Circus Society will be telling the newbies what we’re all about… spending the afternoon at Give-It-a-Go, in which we’ll perform and give sporadic trapeze & silks workshops on the university lawn… and see all my friends again after a 3 month summer break.

I’ve had such a great time blogging more often. I hope you’ve enjoyed it too! As always, I don’t know how much I’ll be able to blog once I’m back in Scotland, but I’m optimistic (as usual) that since I now know what university’s about, I’ll be able to balance it better.

Today is my last day at the International Potato Center. I’m just finishing up my work. The two videos I worked on have been shown at several conferences and the feedback was very good, especially for the project trailer. The minute it’s up on the CIP website / YouTube page, I’ll publish the link. It will best explain the project I’ve been a part of this past month.

with my supervisor Veronique and my fellow crazy intern Kathleen

with my supervisor Veronique and my fellow crazy intern Kathleen

So before I leave the country, I wanted to leave you with some videos of artists who have been influencing me, and who I have cast a firm and fascinated eye on. If you follow me on Twitter or Tumblr, then you’ll already know most of this, but I did want to dedicate a blog to what other artists are doing.

Firstly, with love from Scotland, the man who was supposed to follow his father’s footsteps and take over the local fish and chips shop:

 

Who knows where the audio track in the middle of the song is from? Here’s a clue:

the-great-dictator-1940-wallpapers-9

Secondly, a short report introducing a fantastic new band and Grammy nominee, with love from Lima, Peru:

Visit their Official Website to know how you can get their music!

 

This is a fascinating film, based on a true story, that I cannot wait to see. It might be in your local indie cinema at the moment, so please rush to see it if you can.

I spent this week reading the following memoir and, because I am superstitious, I’m raced to finish it before my flight. It’s the true story of Juliane Koepke, who, when she was 17, became the sole survivor of a plane crash en route to the jungle city Pucalpa. She fought her way through the Amazon rainforest for 11 days with fractured bones, eventually finding her way out and discovering that everyone else, including her mother, had perished in the accident. Approximately 50 years later, she published her memoirs.

Juliane Koepke

Juliane Koepke

As “chance” will have it, her book has just been translated into Spanish and in a few days times, Juliane Koepke will be arriving and signing this book in Lima. I, unfortunately, will have left by then, so I urge everyone who will be here to go to the event, meet her, and get a copy of her book. It is very very good.

Here is the official invitation:

koepke

If you happen to not be in Peru, you can console yourself with an excellent documentary about Juliane’s survival by German director Werner Herzog, entitled Wings Of Hope. As “chance” would have it, he was desperately trying to get on that fated flight as well, as he was in the middle of finding Aguirre in the Peruvian Amazon. The flight, however, was overbooked, and he and his film team couldn’t get on.

Scoot up, I’m trying to watch this too:

Well, my friends, I have to get some work done before the day is through. I hope you enjoyed this first round of What Other Artists Are Doing. I’ll keep you informed on good art I discover along the way. Until then, I leave you with something I have been doing… with you… MY BLURB.

Thank you to everyone who gave me such excellent feedback; who wasn’t annoyed at me for bugging them about it. This is it. Unless I change something else.

You’re a fool if you think we work the fields! The fields work us!”

This foreboding riddle could have led Damian to be more careful with the Earth, but not much makes sense when you have knots growing out of your head. The young traveller works at a circus of flying people. He learns how to help others with magical plants, but neglects opening his own knots.

When Damian thoroughly loses what is left of his balance, he falls over the horizon. He wakes up to find himself in a desolate desert where the Earth sees him as a seed that refuses to grow. Only by striking a friendship with a charming but cheeky potato and learning to look the Earth in the eye, can Damian hope to open his knots and return to his side of the horizon.

Rooted in Peruvian mythology, Qayqa is a novel about the living energy of the universe, a fairytale about finding yourself.

Got thoughts on it? Let me know what you think!

Love, Ritti

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Book Tour // Buchtournee

12 Jun

Today we made you a video about how you can “Book the Book” tour. It’s in German because I’ll be starting my book tour in all German-speaking countries. Keep scrolling for some photos & a random video!

Now that you’ve seen it, join in the BOOK MY BOOK tour and book me via:

  • rittisoncco@gmail.com
  • facebook.com/rittisoncco
  • twitter  @ritti soncco

So how all this happened was, yesterday I was rambling to my good friend, Jamie the Pict, about making a video for y’all. He immediately offered to film it for me because he’s a Very Kind Man who loves doing Weird Things. Hence I say good friend!

on our way!

on our way!

He knows Aberdeen like his own “westentasche” (haha inside joke) so when I said I wanted to be in a tree, he suggested filming at Hazelhead Park. Like most things in Scotland, Hazelhead Park is partly a golf course, but this summer, it’ll host the Highland Games for Aberdeenshire, wherein ole Scottish things are done, such as throwing cabers and looking like badly-hidden euphemisms which would prove Freud right.

Anyway, we drove around the park until I screamed: “THERE’S OUR TREE!”

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We tried different angles, Jamie fought with my iPod’s focus, and we grr’d when golf cars or horse trunks rumbled by… But we got our shot!

And here are some photos of how we fell in love with this beautiful tree.

Jamie's filming position

Jamie’s filming position

film pose

film pose

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And some video nonsense.

There, dear ayllu, now you know how to BOOK MY BOOK. Remember I’m open to all your suggestions. I’ll read by your favourite river. If you play a musical instrument, maybe we can do a literary-musical fusion? I’ll read at midnight, at noon. Make it exciting, let your imagination go wild. I’m up for all sorts of epic nonsense.

So BOOK MY BOOK and tell all yer friends Qayqa is coming!

Thank you so much. Have an orchid.

Phalaenopsis

Phalaenopsis Orchid

(This comes from a link a good friend sent me of plants looking like creatures. You’ll love it, so click here, then BOOK MY BOOK tour!)

The Traveling Writer

12 Sep

Where was I? Where were you?? 

This is where I was:

1st Lap in white, 2nd Lap in light pink, 3rd Lap in magenta

1st Lap in white, 2nd Lap in light pink, 3rd Lap in magenta

Firstly, I was in Toulouse for the European Juggling Convention. Then I drove with a friend from Toulouse (over La Rochelle) to Brighton, to attend the Aerial Dance Festival there. I spent a few quiet days and not-so-quiet-nights in London with my best friend, then I flew to Carcassonne and travelled around with botanists I met at the EJC, ending up in Montpellier and catching a flight from there to Frankfurt-Hahn.

Before hitting the road I didn’t know how much I would be able to blog so I thought it best to advise everyone to follow my Tumblr account (rittisoncco.tumblr.com) If you want more pictures from my summer, feel free to check them out there!

Oooo it’s strange to be blogging after such a long pause. I feel a bit awkward. Sorry if my writing is bizarre: I need to get back into the flow!

My summer was truly beautiful, and I did it by planning absolutely nothing. I wanted the wind to take me. Following a beautiful invitation, the wind took me back to the south of France for ocean waves, melons, rivers and lakes and frommage de chevre. 

In Brighton we trained to a beautiful song. In Montpellier I jotted down a memory. If you like, listen to the song and then give my anecdote your eyes. It’s work-in-progress – or perhaps it’s as far as it will ever go. It’s an anecdote I wrote to remember, and the home for memories are diaries, short stories, and you.

Two Travelers Find Themselves In a City

photo 1Two travelers climbed out of the entanglements of the woods and found themselves among the soft French murmurs of the ocean city Montpellier. His hair fell in masses that mimicked the leaves in autumn and smelt of bonfires over which he had cooked dinners and boiled coffee. Her scalp was covered in sand, le sable, and her hair clumped into what would, with time, become dreadlocks formed by swimming in the Mediterranean Sea and in lakes.

photo 2

Their eyes still searched, accustomed by now to deciphering transparent jellyfish from choppy green water; deciphering which roads led to less people; which rocks could be climbed over and which would cut her left foot.

In this state, they found themselves abruptly in the center of Montpellier. They were trying to camouflage by wearing clothes of finer material, but their skin smelt of midnight washes, naked under the waning moon, and they knew they were tourists – not to this city, but to all cities. The only intimacy she felt necessary, she had come to find in the space between her face and her hair. They had peed in vineyards, on mountains, in showers. They had swum naked; they had argued in towns where no one knew their names.

Now they sat in a restaurant and ordered food.

the food that came looked something like this

the food that came

She crossed her legs beneath the glass table with finesse but she was thinking: I hope this city doesn’t grow much larger for it will come between us. I’m pretending, she knew. The woods they had lived in had demanded they expel everything but their core, and it had taken a while for her head to leave. She didn’t want her core to return to the entanglement of the woods, wrapped and hidden by leaves.

He looked as little as ease as she, but his movements were perfect: how he selected the wine, how he held the glass as he tasted his choice. She began a table conversation, but hesitantly.

As they ate, the conversation turned to judgement: how they were perceived on occasions. Feeling the city between them, she told her story in more direct, more revealing manner. She said things she normally would not have; not so quickly: I know they think I’m beautiful and I’ve been judged as having things made easier for me because of that. His smile grew as she gave him intimacy with her anecdote, and he set the wine glass down to hear her.

And they thought: Let’s get the hell away from this restaurant and back into the van.

photo 4

Let’s cook on its small gas stove that goes out if we leave the doors open. In the kitchen that sways whenever a car whizzes past. Let’s eat on stone slabs and scratch our skin from the latex of figs. I saw who she was when she learnt how to climb. I saw who he was when he swam in the ocean. 

I was seen in the woods. Take me back there, I want to be seen again. 

photo 3

Yes, I loved being away from civilization. I thought of you often and wondered if you were checking my blog, wondering where the hell I was. Traveling was beautiful, but it’s good to be back and blogging

I’ve been thinking about the future of the blog since I first toyed with the idea of going to uni. I came to the following conclusion: This has always been a blog about my writing, and as my writing will continue as long as I breathe, this blog will continue being about my writing.

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There’s quite a bit to say, but I should mention that the upcoming Kulturnacht on Saturday, 14th September, will be my “last” performance in Germany this year – since I am moving to Scotland in 9 days…

There was a MISTAKE in the official PROGRAM BROCHURE: I START AT 8pm. I’ll probably be reading until 11 pm / midnight, depending on the audience / feedback. I will do my utmost to limit myself to 20 minutes, but I’m feeling quite liberal about the night. I’m taking the guitar, I’ll experiment a bit with poetry, Qayqa, and stuff, and if you show me that you want a performance to go on for longer: I will.

Friedrich Glorian will not be performing with me, as he has engagements elsewhere. I am, ofcourse, very sad to not be collaborating with him on Saturday (I was especially looking forward to our rehearsals!!! I had the impression that they would be great fun) but when he spoke to me about his other engagement, I understood and support his decision 100%. You have to go where your art takes you.

I’m really just letting the Kulturnacht 2013 surprise me. I have a few ideas, and ofcourse I’m slightly nervous (it’ll get stronger as Saturday approaches), but all in all, I just want to focus on feeling comfortable.

On the road and since I’ve returned, I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of artist – and wondering if I really have what it takes. I took this year 2012 / 2013 to focus on my writing, and I found that I wasn’t necessarily more productive than if I hadn’t taken a year off to write. I usually wrote the most when I had to leave the following morning, because the pressure of departure was on me.

The winter was hard. I asked myself often if I really have what it takes to be an artist, a productive creator. I see other artists around me who have been doing this for years, and I admire their enthusiasm and energy so much. It’s such a rollercoaster ride; how the HELL do other people do it?!

I met up with very good friends of mine: filmmakers. They made this film:

It premiered at the Berlinale and was a great success. Since then, the filmmaking company they founded, Kunststoff, has been thriving. They can live comfortably off their work, and we spent a very interesting evening comparing our lives as freelancers, artists, creators.

And I heard my words coming out of their mouths: “It’s a rollercoaster ride. If it weren’t so damn emotional, it’d be alright, but we’re not machines… Sometimes everything is so overwhelming and there no one who can help you with your problem because you’re doing something new, something no one has ever done before, so there’s no one to tell you how to do things. You have to find the solution yourself. It’s beautiful – but it’s exhausting – but it’s beautiful.”

A few days later in Ulm, I went to the Roxy to see the band Okta Logue in concert. Mark and I had stumbled over them accidentally in Darmstadt, and now they finally made it to Ulm… Back in Darmstadt we saw them give an interview and present their music video, which was…

They were in Ulm to present their new album Tales Of Transit City which was stunning, really really stunning. With the first strum of the guitar, the audience of Ulm closed their eyes and swayed. I went to the bar for another beer and from the distance, I could feel Okta Logue cast their spell over the crowd. I walked back into the cloud and felt bewitched. It was a beautiful, beautiful concert, and if you ever have the opportunity to see them live, please don’t miss it.

Here is another song I quite like:

After a magical concert, I fell into a long and interesting discussion with the guitarist and drummer about the nature of being an artist. They mentioned not being too pleased with the gig because they were tired, etc, and we discussed the automatisms we fall into while we perform.

“I know that during this particular sentence, I usually do this hand gesture, so I do it. Even when I don’t feel it, I do it,” I said.

The guitarist nodded quickly: “I know this is usually my pose, so I take it, but I don’t feel it. I start thinking too much, and that’s when I make mistakes. Then it’s oh no, one mistake, and the insecurities pour in so I make a second mistake. Then it’s 2:0 mistakes against me. It’s an internal battle no one else sees while I am onstage.”

photo 2

I recounted: “I gave a reading once that I wasn’t pleased with and yet the audience gave me great feedback that night. But I was somehow saddened that I had missed out on a beautiful experience that they had all shared with one another. I was there, yes, but I had missed the feeling the night had for them.” They nodded understandingly.

“That’s how it is,” we agreed. “It’s a damn emotional rollercoaster ride.”

photo 3

Okta Logue is in the middle of a tour throughout Germany and in October they’ll hit the States for 3 weeks. I told them (and I’ll keep saying it) that I wish them every success because they truly deserve it. Their music is divine. Please visit their page here: http://oktalogue.com/wordpress/  and go to their concerts and buy their vinyls and t-shirts. Talk to them afterwards if you can. It’s rare to find people you can fall immediately have deep, meaningful conversations with; but you can with them.

So my insecurities questioning “am I real artist?” are the echo we all share. I’ve written all my life, and I love performing. But for how long will the doubts echo? Will we ever be sure of ourselves as artists? – or is the point of confidence also the point of arrogance?

I know I need the freedom to travel and to write as I see fit. There are many people with many very good ideas about how I should continue my career, and they would all be right, except that I have other plans… Just as Basti said about being a filmmaker: you hit a problem and no one can solve it for you because no one’s ever been here before. It’s the same with every other choice in the artist life: no one has ever been here before, so I will do things my way. I know I’ll doubt and fight and love, but as long as my words reach you, I think I am doing alright. 

Find the way you need to live.

I leave you with an interesting conversation I had yesterday with Manfred Eichhorn, owner of the Eichhorn Buchladen where I’ll be reading at the Kulturnacht. Before I hit the road, I gave him the Qayqa manuscript for critique, and over a cup of jasmine tea, he gave me excellent feedback with direction.

And he said:

“You and your novel are inseparable. When you read it, there’s magic. But what happens when you’re not around to read it? Can your words stand on their own? In order to do so, they still need some work.

I also have doubts about your character: why is he a man? He doesn’t always sound or act like a man. If you are so inseparable from your book, why not make the main character a woman? You, perhaps? That will help your reader dive quicker in the world you are creating. Damian is very feminine, and that’s sometimes a problem because I didn’t always believe him.

Either you change Damian into a woman… Or keep the third-person narrative structure and stop speaking from his perspective.”

I have been asking myself ever since: why do I love that Damian is a man? Given the choices Manfred Eichhorn proposed, I would immediately choose to stay true to the third-person narrative and (sad as I find it) eliminate all first-person recounts. Because I love Damian is a man. I cannot turn him into a woman.

But: why not?

Why not…?

See you at the Kulturnacht… Or on the blog.

last night, experimenting different tunes for my poetry

last night, experimenting different tunes for my poetry

I will blog again before Scotland.

3 Days Until the Road

18 Jul
somewhere between Freiburg and Berlin

this weekend, somewhere between Freiburg and Berlin

This was a beautiful weekend. I spent one night in Freiburg, visiting a very good friend’s graduating art exhibition. Then I spent three nights in Berlin, visiting my backpacker friend Erick from Colombia, who is currently in Berlin with his band Milmarias, recording their second studio album. Shortly before leaving Bogotá, they gave this fun concert á la Bicycle Sessions:

Until their second studio album is released, you can follow them around on SoundCloud here.

Erick & Kike giving an interview to a radio station in Bogotá, Colombia, over Skype

Erick & Kike giving an interview to a radio station in Bogotá, Colombia, over Skype

When I arrived in Berlin on Saturday night, they were opening for a London-Colombian band called Bitch ‘N Monk. Behaving strangely stalker-y, I bought several copies of their demo, followed them on Twitter and found this beautiful band-trailer:

I don’t really have any other way of putting this:  strangely, their music felt like a consolation. I was relieved to know this kind of music was still being made – innovatively. Not re-mixed or re-dreamt from the 60s, but genuine in our days. The lyrics had me closing my eyes, smiling in shame / surprise at being caught: admitting that I had had the very thoughts she was singing of. She revealed me to myself – and that’s not something that happens often. So when it does, the reaction is to behave strangely stalker-ish. Caught in the act of being a fan! Feeling understood by an artist is a wonderful wonderful thing.

Of all the songs they performed that night, one really stuck out to me, which I want to share with you now.

Music.

Literature.

Artists going their way.

Making things happen.

Listening to a gut –

a gut feeling telling them: this might be the right way to do it. 

I’m in that kind of a knot: How to go about Qayqa? The crowdfunding is done, and everything now is about The Next Step. Everyone is looking to me to direct – and I’m trying to slow everyone down because I want the next step to be a very careful & thought-out enterprise. I ran into the crowdfunding with one fist in the air and my other hand balancing a lot of other things on a shaky plate. Miraculously, it worked. Now I need my steps to be less fisty, less shaky, and slow.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the cover for Qayqa. Mark has some brilliant ideas for making the cover seem magical. We recently walked around a bookstore pulling books off shelves and comparing their coversMark is considering something like this:

"The Neverending Story" by Michael Ende

“The Neverending Story” by Michael Ende

But I recently saw something I think I may like more: an insinuation.

Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein"

Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”

Qayqa‘s insinuation is quite clearly knots. Yes, there are flying people in it, but – trust me – they are not as present in Qayqa as they are in the sequel Munay. Thinking about knots, I immediately remembered an album I adored when I was growing up: Alanis Morisette’s Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. In the CD booklet were beautiful images of her long hair, and I poured over these images marveling at the simplicity behind the idea.

alanis morissette - supposed former infatuation junkie (inside 03)

alanis morissette - supposed former infatuation junkie (inside 02)

Mark will come up with some sketches to show me what’s in his head; and I think I might take some pictures of knots and play around with my ideas.

Now… I have 3 days at home, and I am using them mostly to be in bed. I’m doing what I always dream of when I have little time: I watch films.

On Friday, I’m giving a reading at the Kulturnacht der Universität Konstanz, and on Saturday I’m back in Neu-Ulm reading at the Neu-Ulmer Stadtlesen. 

On Sunday, I head back to the JOJO Circus School to complete the one module I missed out on last year, when I was backpacking through Latin America: the juggling module. I’ll be going back as an “external student”, training with the class that began one year after we did. A parallel class will be there at the same time, and I am friends with this group, so it won’t be too alienating I think. It will simply be … interesting … to go back to the Rappenhof after such an intense 10 days with my group. To train without them, will be very strange.

I’ll be there for 1 week, then I head off with a friend to the Toulouse, France, for the European Juggling Convention, which goes on for a little over 7 days. Here, I will have the opportunity to meet & train with amazing circus people and live among circus tents again.After this I will roadtrip with my friend to Brighton, England, to the European Aerial Dance Festival. More lessons in trapeze and silks. It’s going to be an intense 3 weeks.

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Then I’ll come back to Ulm.

That’s my circus summer.

You’ll be getting a lot of pictures (probably mostly on my Tumblr).

I’m looking forward to it all – but I’m also a bit nervous. There will be a lot of hopping from one world to the next. At least it will all be the circus world, but it involves so much Packing Up & Leaving Again – and I think I’m almost done with that. I’m finally starting to look forward to settling down again somewhere. Yet: the many hours in the car will give me great time to think; time to stare at changing landscapes and ponder in my journal. I’m looking forward to the latter the most.

I’ll be blogging from the road. I’m still in the midst of planning possible dates for Qayqa‘s publication. I’ve also written quite a bit for Munay since the crowdfunding ended. A dam seemed to burst open in my head, and I could write with such clarity. It was a great feeling. I hope it stays.

I have so much to digest at the moment, but above all: I feel calm again. I’m practising walking slowly and I’m trying to digest things whenever I can. I’m writing again. Can you believe this life: in order to be a writer, you need to put the pen down and do everything but writing?! It’s a luxury when I can write. I intend to use those many hours on the road, doing just that.

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You’ll be hearing from me.

If you’re wondering what direction the writing is going in, I’ve made a new thing for you to follow: my Writing Music playlist on Spotify! I just wrote something terribly dark for Munay, which is why there is so much from the World War Z soundtrack. Now that we’re moving in a more magical direction, I added Lindsey Stirling. (Thanks Ben) If YOU have any Writing Music suggestions: HIT ME! Instrumental music is very good for writing…

You know what I love blogging about the most? Extracts from my work: telling you what inspired me, giving you behind-the-scenes peeks at metaphors, explaining what personal anecdote led to a certain image… I like showing you how my mind works.

So I will leave you with an extract from Munay; I wrote this just after the crowdfunding project ended. This was my mood for the following piece:

morning_sunshine-HD

FROM “MUNAY”: 

One day we awoke at dawn; tangled in our bedsheets, our hair tangled together. We opened our eyes and I saw reflected in his the desperation I felt every morning when I awoke: thankfully, you are still here. The panic subdued. We smiled carefully. After so many months together, we were still afraid to be boisterous.

Laying in my bed, soaked still from the flight of the night before, our careful fingers tried to untangle our heads. Stubborn strands had a steadfast grip. I didn’t own scissors. I held the stubborn strands of hair tightly and pulled. They ripped from my head but kept their steadfast grip onto Mat. Parts of me would not be separated from him. He smiled.

Stretching our legs in bed, the sun came out from behind the heavy grey clouds. Its rays fell onto my feet and Mat said: “Let’s go for a walk.”

landscapes-nature-sun-trees-grass-sunlight-macro-HD-Wallpapers

You’ll be hearing from me very soon, ayllu.

Love, Ritti

“Can We Just Stay Here?”

10 Jun
candles are important

all photographs courtesy of Mark Klawikowski

Last Thursday, I had the honour of hosting a fantastic audience at my 2nd Crowdfunding Party. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of my audience, although I had been meaning to get some. At the time, it just seemed more important to enjoy their company as much as possible. And 3 days later, they’re still the topic I want to dedicate this post to.

I don’t know what it was. I definitely felt more prepared than at the 1st Crowdfunding Party, but I didn’t have an opening speech prepared, which, when I stood behind the curtain about to go onstage, was a bit of a worry. I was slightly nervous because I had a few family members in the audience, and the fact that I read barefoot and it was cold, made my voice shake.

And yet, the second I stepped onto the stage, I felt something I didn’t feel the last time: This stage is my home. 

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I felt so comfortable, so relaxed, that I even began cussing – something I only really do around people I feel very comfortable with. I even had my “normal” body language: in the short speeches between the poems, I didn’t use my “performance” body language, but relaxed into the way I would if I were normally speaking to friends.

And ofcourse there were friends in the crowd – but that’s of little “consolation” when you’re onstage performing. Even if the whole audience was composed solely of family members, you still need to present your “artist persona”, and not at-home-in-comfie-socks-Ritti.

I was even funny.

That was a bit of a surprise. I don’t really consider myself a funny person; I’m just someone who loves to laugh. I may be a performer, but I never saw myself as a crowd-entertainer. Mark is the funny one. He’s the clown Spontanello, the improvisation genius for family comedy. I, on the other hand, am the sombre, serious, “let’s-talk-about-depressions” performer for adults. I didn’t necessarily read light-hearted pieces; I just somehow had the audience in giggles with my anecdotes between poems.

Like in the following video. I like this version of performing my poem The Backpacker Poem (in English) very much, and because of the fun anecdote I tell (in German) in the end.

Apparently I read a hilarious extract from Qayqa. I honestly had no idea it was so funny: I read and suddenly everyone was in a fit of giggles. Well: performing is how we discover our own books. I obviously have to set that extract firmly into my performance repertoire!

I repeatedly thanked the audience for being so Generally Wonderful. I had such a damn good time with you folks. The murmurs of appreciation, sympathy or amusement are a fantastic interaction with the performer: what more could I possibly ask for, than an audience who dreams with me. 

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After most people had gone home, a small crowd remained behind to help Mark, Pixie and I clean up. Earlier on, we had had troubles with my guitar’s new strings, thus disabling me from performing a POEM + SONG that I had prepared. When Gerhard, the Angel, tuned the guitar, we all sat back down in the main room and I performed my POEM + SONG for the After-Show Party. Mark filmed it (the first half):

The feeling was so intense in the room, so supportive and beautiful, that when I was done, I looked into the crowd and said from the heart: “Can we not just stay here forever? I’ll keep performing if you want. Just let us stay here.”

♥  ♥  ♥

Performing POEMS + SONGS is something I plan to develop further. Any thoughts on this? Any advice? I thought of taking up the guitar beyond my 5 chords. Knowing how to play an instrument is so damn important.

Apart from the audience being absolutely brilliant that night, I have also (as you know) been thinking a lot about a Revolution of Fun. I have been getting so caught up in the structural side of my crowdfunding project, that having fun was the last thing on my mind. Try staying up until 6 or 7 am a few nights in a row, working only on preparing your art for performance, and fun will be the last thing on your mind … Unless you are as lucky as I was, and have an AMAZING crew who stay up with you / support & help you / make you coffee / make you laugh / believe in you / show you ways in which you can be the best version of your Self.

(l.t.r) Ritti Soncco, Fabiano "the Fab Fab" Nitsch, Richelle "Pixie" Signer, Mark "Robotermark" Klawikowski

(l.t.r) Ritti Soncco, Fabiano “the Fab Fab” Nitsch, Richelle “Pixie” Signer, Mark “Robotermark” Klawikowski

Now that my beloved Pixie has hit the road again, it’s up to me to maintain the standard she brought back into my life: Good Food, Good Laughter, Family.

I started by relaxing during my afternoon interview at Radio Free FM with Paolo Percoco. He had heard our Platform Interview on Monday and asked me to come into his program “Ulmer Freiheit”. We met before the interview for the first time and immediately clicked. I had such a brilliant time On Air with him; I hope this is the first of many Percoco Meetings. Click Here to download the interview from the Radio Free FM website.

Since the CROWDFUNDING PROJECT started (CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT!), supporters have been writing to ask if there’s anything else they can do to support the Qayqa Crowdfunding. I’m amazed by this! Thank you!

I’m constantly brainstorming with the people in the picture above aso to what else we can do to get supporters for Qayqa. What are YOUR ideas??? 

What you can do for me is download the following StartNext Flyers and send them to all your friends. Tell them you saw me read; tell them how it was. Ask them to follow the StartNext Link (www.startnext.de/qayqa) and to trust you when you say they should really support the book.

flyerback1

Flyer front

You could also send them your favourite YouTube video to convince them:

Official Crowdfunding Video:  http://youtu.be/5C2fbjXHb9c

Beginning of Qayqa:  http://youtu.be/M6Qz4-mYjas

From the Middle of Qayqa: http://youtu.be/nbur2f3n03w

Backpacker Poem:  http://youtu.be/-wCStQwtZNE

Or browse around my YouTube Channel for more:  http://www.youtube.com/RittiSoncco

 

On StartNext, the project is crawling. The Crowdfunding Parties raised approx. €200 which I’ll be submitting to StartNext next week, when I’m back in Ulm. We now have 25 days to raise approx. €2000. From the interest my audiences / crowdfunding-supporters are showing, I really, really believe this can work. We can really release QAYQA together. 

During this Crowdfunding process, I can’t shake the persistent tick that there is so much more I should be doing. I get great suggests & ideas from friends & supporters, and I want to fulfill the ones I can.

Just a sidenote as to where I am right now: I’m at my Circus School preparing for our performance (PLEASE SEE CIRCUS VARIETÉ “KLASSENFOTO” on the NEXT PERFORMANCES section, on the right panel of this blog). I have a solo on the aerial silks, so every day, I get up at 7 am to train the hell out of my body all day. I’m pretty exhausted; I’m pretty damn happy.

This is where I am right now, where I receive aerial classes!

photography by Fabiano Nitsch

photograph by Fabiano Nitsch

Despite being at my circus school I’m taking every free minute to check my mails, reply, bug people on the internet, and follow up on your ideas.

Keep ’em coming! I will do all I can, because YOU truly have brilliant ideas.

I have a birthday coming up. Shall we meet then to do a guerilla reading? I could have a computer with internet access in the room so that you can SUPPORT while the reading is still hot in your memory, haha!

That’s cheeky.

Cheeks move you forward.

Love, Ritti

 

Whatever You’re Going Through, This Is To Help You Get Through It

23 Jan

You might not know who to turn to sometimes, so you might turn to the internet. This is a space on the net where you can find some love. We called it “the Finger Hug Project”, and it’s for whoever finds it – for whoever needs it.

Thinking of everyone who may need our love, in an art collaboration around the world, people painted their fingers so that you know:

We don’t know who you are, but we’re sending you our love.

Whatever you’re going through: this is to help you get through it.

hug2

Not everyone out there is against you, even if it seems that way right now.

You’re not being punished.

Things are rough now, but they will get better.

hugs5

You’re not as bad as you think.

People will forgive you.

hug3

Everyone gets lonely.

You haven’t ruined it all.

hug6

Don’t be afraid to tell people how you feel.

Everyone is insecure, frightened and jealous sometimes.

No one is strong all the time.

hug4

You won’t always be alone.

The day will come when the messages you get in the mail / on your cell phone / in Facebook won’t just be bills, coupons or advertisements.

There are a lot of people who care. You’d be surprised to know who you’ve touched.

hugs1.5

You are still a country worth exploring. Inside you there’s still a being without scars.

You’re still new to be touched and kissed and loved.

Your experiences are your lessons – but you are still brand new.

hug1

Whatever is going on in your life right now, whatever has happened: you’re still good.

We don’t know you, but we’re thinking of you.

Thank you to everyone who participated! By doing this, your generosity has helped someone, somewhere out there. I know it: you helped me. 

About This Project

Last month, I was kicking some major pre-Christmas blues. I was feeling very alone and horrible. I stumbled across a picture on the internet of two finger painted into a hug. It was simple and so beautiful. I saved it and went on browsing.

At the time, I was following the news of the dark pre-Christmas days – the suicides, the gun shootings, the wars, and the wars of women. I thought of everyone who wouldn’t enjoy Christmas, who may have suffered a terrible fate, or who may be alone. I wanted to reach out to all those people, and let them know that they weren’t alone – and, by default, that I wasn’t alone. I remembered the picture of the fingers hugging.

And I made this video:

I passed the video around on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter… and YOUR PICTURES began pouring in.

Your pictures came from literally all over the world. Some chose to take pictures with their faces, others wanted to remain anonymous. One of you chose to make a family project out of it. One of you told his daughter about the project, she enthusiastically painted her fingers, and he sent me a picture.

a friend advertising the FingerHug Project on her facebook wall in English & Japanese

a friend advertising the FingerHug Project on her facebook wall in English & Japanese

One of you said:

I sent this because I read this right after I read about a recent gang rape in New Delhi. I felt bad and didn’t know what else to do.

This project is about sending love out to those who may need it. And what better place to put it than on the internet.

… Because: (as you may know) I follow Amanda Palmer’s blog, and a few weeks ago, she began posting a lot about internet bullying. The internet is an overwhelmingly endless bazaar offering our news, gossip, beauty – and our hate. Her blog post states some very strong examples of internet hate. Her content & the comments posted by her readers touched me greatly.

This project is a movement of solidarity and love. If you’re having bad times, if shit is hitting the fan over & over again, or if you’re just wallowing in self-pity: come here and have some love. If it’s virtual, digital, physical, emotional hate: there is so much love out here for you.

And if you didn’t do it already: ZOOM IN and look at the FingerHugs up close. Their individuality is very, very touching!!

the original finger hug

the original finger hug

To me: those blues were kicking me pretty hard, and then the pictures started coming in. I felt as though they were shooting stars, aiming out towards the love, who knows where they were directed? Who knows who or what these people were thinking of when they painted their fingers and sent me their pictures. But as the pictures arrived, with so much compassion, even if their love wasn’t directed at me, mygod it still warmed me. It warmed me.

It was like standing very close to a meteor shower: watching the stars shoot by, reaching out and feeling the warmth on my fingers.

photo(1)

I think I might print these FingerHugs and hang them around my apartment. That way, whenever I’m feeling horrible, I can look at them and know that even if some of these people don’t know me, I’m not alone.

If you need it: do it too.

If you know someone who needs this / might like it: share it.

Stay strong out there. Whatever you’re going through, this is to help you get through it.

thinking of you

The Backpacker Poem is ONLINE

8 Oct

This is it: Our around-the-world video project is done!

To give all the newbies a short recap: back in August 2012, while I was backpacking through Perú, I wrote a poem about the life on the road – and had the idea to ask backpackers around the world to participate in a film project based on this poem. I filmed myself talking about this idea and posted the resulting video onto my blog:

I honestly wasn’t sure how much interest this project would spark up. Having a blog is really like talking to yourself in the mirror when you think you’re all by yourself. I’m constantly being surprised with the lines: “I read in your blog that…” So after being given evidence from different corners that there are avid readers of my blog, I decided to risk it and take our relationship to the next level: active participation.

… And I received incredible feedback! The project was retweeted and passed around immediately, and I received the first video contribution on the very same day – thank you Val! Over the upcoming two months, the videos kept pouring in. I was in a fever whenever I received a new video. I must have watched them over & over again. It was pure christmas-presents feeling, pure excitement. Honestly: I’m sad it’s over! I loved opening my inbox to find a new video lying in wait.

Ofcourse I didn’t know, until the end, which lines people would choose and therefore which lines were taken. It was interesting to see which lines were the ones that people most identified with. “Joyful that my wealth was the landscapes around me” was a favourite. In this way, the poem came alive over the last two months, like a puppet slowly beginning to move. I loved hearing my words with so many different voices.

What was fun was when two people, who live on opposite sides of the planet and know nothing of each other, chose the same lines. In video, they have to share the lines, and while editing it sometimes looked to me as though these complete strangers were in the middle of an intimate dialogue…

I gained a lot of insight learning which lines touched you the most. As a writer, as a blogger, I’m constantly on a mission to find out which lines keep you awake at night. I have a few favourites in there too, that might have a cameo in Munay.

Back in Germany, I set up my computer and began editing. I took this picture last night, as I was almost done:

On a personal note: the best lesson this project gave me was the realisation that there’s a community reading this blog. So if you can hear me, if you’re reading this: it’s fantastic knowing you’re out there.

This is it. This is what happens when a bunch of creative and exciting people around the world read a poem.

THE BACKPACKER POEM

The Backpacker Poem from ritti soncco on Vimeo.

If you liked it, please share it on your facebook, twitter, blogs, etc! If you liked it, join the blog so that you can join our next project!

Additionally to a line from the poem, I received a short film from a backpacker friend, who not only wanted to send me her line, but also her thoughts on the project itself. I compiled her words into a short video, so as to share it with all of you. This is what she had to say about backpacking and about our Backpacker Poem Project:

 

Some notes to editing THE BACKPACKER POEM:

Editing presented two major challenges: The first was, as it has always been, sound. Most people, when they’re backpacking, aren’t carrying professional sound equipment around in their backpacks – unless your name is Almuth, you worked at Radio Free FM, and you’re backpacking through Perú. When I recorded a video and played it back on the camera, the sound seemed good. Later, on the editing programme, not so much. Well. Such is life. I wanted to put subtitles so as to bring a little more focus onto the lines and less onto the changing locations – in the end, subtitles were good with the sound issue, too.

The second issue was that everyone, obviously, has their own rhythm of speech. I tackled it by laying a soundtrack: it’s “Unspoken” by Four Tet.

I loved your creative videos and your enthusiastic energy. Personally, I would love to do something like this again. So I’m very interested in hearing your thoughts on the final video, and if you think it would be sweet to see how far we can go with ideas like this.

It’s been a great ride with you guys in my car. I look forward to your thoughts, ideas, comments. Please feel free share the video on your every networking site! Here’s to more adventures on the road of our crazy little heads.

One Hum We Both Could Share

2 Aug

The following post is an extract from the novel I am currently working on, Working Title: “Munay”. Being an artist is strange, guys, so don’t be surprised if the upcoming posts seem rather eclectic and all over the place. I have developed a spindle of legs and am currently walking down several roads simultaneously. Bear with me: it might all make sense in the end. Until then, I hope you enjoy the extract from my next novel…

Probably positioned at the beginning of the second chapter, which I plan on naming “Death”, this extract is spoken by the man in love with the main character, Anahata.

 

On the first night, I dreamt that the universe had been created by sound. An amorphous mass growing in the void, turning and churning within itself, expanding and contracting. Creating space for species, plants, wars, and beauty – creating enough space for everything that will come. As the universe expanded in complexity, so did its sound.

Its sound was a vibration that created cells, that multiplied them as the vibration increased. That gave them complexity as the vibration expanded into layers of sound. The sound covered the cells with skin, gave them eyes to see and nerves to feel. A heartbeat, the breath of a creature; all sound. The warm rush of joy, the cold rush of fear – the tingle of life vibrating as sound, and sound was the birth of consciousness.

Sound around us, multidimensional. Sound within us, cleansing. And every sound today is rooted in that first sound: the sound that manifested as the universe was created.

If sound could create a universe of such complexity once, perhaps it could create another again? Perhaps it creates constantly… Every time new consciousness is born, a world within our world vibrates into existence: a simple diorama created by a singular sound.

On the second night, I dreamt of you. We were standing in a crowd of thousands of people, none of them moving but all of them talking. There was no way out of the crowd. We were trapped and I saw you looking at me. The way you looked at me made me want to write you a love poem.

I asked myself how would you feel if I wrote you a love poem? Would it surprise you, offend you or confuse you? I wouldn’t want that, because I want nothing other than sufficient country to express my emotions, to tell you that I see you occasionally looking at me and it makes me want to write you a love poem.

On the third night, we stood alone in my dream but our mouths had been taken from us and we were unable to speak. You looked at me and I felt drunk, thinking that I could never fit into your world. But if all worlds are sound, perhaps we could at least share a hum together.

One sound that you and I could share, one hum of the universe that could be ours. Perhaps with time, that hum could grow and create a universe of our own, a place where we can meet. A single-cell universe created by our consciousness of each other; a world that only you and I know of. We’d hum our tune and watch our universe grow like a bubble before us. We’d leave the world when we step inside and sit within, spend time together and share this hum.

When I look at you, I want nothing other than one hum we both could share.

Reaching Out to the Universe

5 Apr

If within the sacred fence,

A thousand cherry trees

Burst into bloom,

Those who planted them will flourish.

Poem 2732 from the Gyokuyoshuy (Bun’ei era, 1264-1274)

Last Wednesday, I participated in an Evening of Solidarity with Japan, organised by the actress Celia Endlicher. We had been asked for an artistic contribution that expressed solidarity, in an effort to raise money to donate to the Red Cross. To dedicate an evening to the people I love in Japan, and to those million I don’t know, – to reach out to the universe – with my art, is one of the most powerful ways in which an artist can turn their work into a tool for the greater good.

I was deeply moved and immediately offered to give a reading performance. With the help of my good friend Christoph Dannowski (his fantastic art here), three writings were translated into German: Infinity, Are You With Me?, My Personal Japan and The Nuclear Poet.

It was a powerful evening, for it dove into and swam in the current of our emotions. The quiet beauty of a Cherry Blossom Dance. The silent energy of mourning as the shakuhachi (Japanese flute) played an ode to the victims. The communicating madness of a butoh dance. We sailed high on the winds of beauty, then we sank and stank in the pits of despairs. We felt helpless, we felt omnipotent, we felt wretched, we felt beautiful.

Before I stepped onto the stage, I realised that I’m never nervous before a performance because I don’t perceive it as me who is performing. This is the performance of my words. And the fact that I am on stage with them means nothing, because I am standing behind them.

With that in mind, I walked onto the pale wooden stage. Here’s a video of “Der Nukleare Dichter” (“The Nuclear Poet”):

After my first appearance on the stage, I couldn’t shake the fact that somehow, in some way, we were doing something important. When I had first explained the event to a friend, I had joked: “Well we’re not going to hold hands and sing Kumbaya for world peace!”

But even if we weren’t moving the universe, we were certainly moving each other.

My last performance that night was reading “Mein Persönliches Japan” (“My Personal Japan”).

Towards the end of the reading, I began to feel my dear friend in Tokyo. I felt her within me, like an enchantment. She glowed strongly in my heart like an apparition, like a blessing, and my entire being burned with emotion. I just made it off the stage before I started crying.

Now came the end of the evening. A singer and guitarist asked us all to join them on the stage. The singer then explained: “We’re going to sing a song dedicated to water, bearing in mind the increasing radioactivity of the water in Japan. The song we will sing is normally sung in Africa, in Nigeria, and is dedicated to Yemaya, the Yoruba goddess of water.”

As the audience and the performers sang, each verse growing louder and more powerful, I was so deeply moved that I continued to weep. Personally, if I were to consider any country on this fine planet my home, it would be Nigeria. Why, of all the songs to end this evening with, were we singing an African song, never mind a Nigerian song??! I am no believer of coincidence. I believe this was a message:

I had wanted to somehow reach out to the people in Japan and send them my love. To this, the Universe replied with a song from my home. It was a gift of love, for all the love we had sent out that night was somehow coming back to wrap us in its warm embrace.

I felt as though I had reached out to the Universe, and in this song, I could feel it reaching back to me.

Sometimes, the Universe replies quietly, and if we are sensitive, we will pick up on it.

All said: we raised € 700 for the Red Cross, which will support their aid in Japan. Thank you to everyone who participated and donated, and raised the Love Energy on our planet! And now a final chuckle: I guess we sort of ended up singing Kumbaya after all.

My Personal Japan

25 Mar

A journey through life in Germany, a journey through my heart of Japan

I got a call from the psychiatric ward in the morning. A panicking voice screamed: “They’re rioting! They say we’re the mad ones! They’ve lost complete faith in us and in our ability to rule the world. What shall I do? What shall I tell them?”

“Tell them they’re healed and they can all go home,” I replied and hung up the phone.

In the late afternoon, I had wine with a friend. “I’m so bad, I haven’t been keeping up with any of it. Tell me, what happened?” As I told her how the events had unfolded, I couldn’t stop staring at her white wine swimming elegant circles in its oval glass on the table between us. Its luxury unnerved me, offended me. The golden purity reeked of decadence and I wished I could show it fish markets and watch it recoil. In silence, we wined and dined and felt utterly malignant.

At dusk, we visited his mother who had blankets around her feet. “It’s Chernobyl all over again. I can’t watch it anymore. I feel so helpless and so angry. Those poor people, I am with them. I am with them.”

At night, huddled over an iPhone in a bar, the boys googled the wave. “Some idiot wants to surf the tsunami. Someone else thinks the Americans did it. Isn’t it strange that you can google and actually watch the entire tsunami online? Why is everyone filming and nobody running?”

I went home and watched the news until the journalists began using poetic euphemisms, until I could recite their poetry with them. They interviewed Japanese fishermen walking slowly through the wasteland, who said they were looking for souls. “Just to find them,” one man explained. “I will keep looking until I find them.” Souls we lost, souls we must retrieve. The souls they found then walked among them, whispering about the Infinity of things, and the people listened and queued to enter the emptiness of supermarkets.

As my day finally ended, I returned to my heart, to my personal Japan. You, my true friend from school – you, now living in Tokyo – you, my beautiful Noriko. Your skin so perfectly placed I could never read any of your emotions, except when you were puzzled. You spoke softly, carefully and gently preferred saying “I don’t know” when you really meant no. You drank so much and could handle so little, and at the end the party, you were ruffled and crosseyed, lovingly comforting someone – O you and your big heart! Your slim black eyes scanned the world, innocently looking for more trouble, simply looking for a deep conversation about where are we going, where did we come from, what is this illusion we’re in! You treated us all like we were home. When I told you my feet had turned into fish, you took me as I was. You laughed yourself off the chair and later turned catatonic with delight. A single red streak flashed across your face when you giggled, as though the sun always endowed your laughter with a piece of its sunset. How you always surprised & fascinated me, how I grew a garden of Love for you.

She is the Japan we know, the friend we always watched over with Our Love. To give your portrait to the world so that they recognise your smile in the sunset, and see your face when they think of Japan these days.

dedicated with Love, to our friends in Japan

Noriko Okuda, Hiroki Fuji and Tomohiko Takeda