Updated: Sep 2, 2022
By Annie Newcomer:
The Flapper Press Poetry Café features the work of poets from around the world, celebrating the many creative voices who express themselves through poetry. This week we share the work of wandering troubadour poet, Lorraine Caputo.
Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator, and travel writer. Her works appear in over 250 journals on six continents and 18 collections of poetry, including On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019) and Escape to the Sea (Origami Poems Project, 2021). She also authors travel narratives, articles, and guidebooks. In March 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada honored her verse. Caputo has done literary readings from Alaska to Patagonia. She journeys through Latin America with her faithful travel companion, Rocinante (that is, her knapsack), listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. Follow her travels at:
We reached out to Lorraine to find out more about her influences and inspirations.
AN: First of all, I'd like to ask you, what shall we offer you to drink: coffee, tea, limonada de coco?
LC: 🙂—Oooo, the limonada de coco sounds interesting! AN: What might surprise our readers about the lifestyle of a wandering troubadour?
LC: Being a wandering troubadour is much like being any other type of backpacker, but you have to allow for the added weight of your writings—both completed (you always need to have your works on hand to share!) and the works-in-progress. (I have my "traveling poetry books," which include copies of all my poetry and other writings.)
Also, it is amazing how cafés and other reading venues will open the stage to one; and thus, I have performed in Alaska, Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina.
As well, I have been interviewed and shared my poetry on radio programs in Canada, the U.S. , Venezuela, Peru, and Argentina.
AN: What is your favorite mode of transportation as you travel the world?
LC: Train, by train!
AN: And do you ever get lonely?
LC: No, I don't. I much prefer to travel sola, as I can focus on my writing and exploring and spend time with the people of pueblos where I go and learn from them.
AN: I love that you named your backpack Rocinante, also the name of Don Quixote’s horse, which also mirrors Don Quixote himself. Very cool. I see a poem or a story here. Might you share?
LC: Well, my knapsack's name always raises a chuckle in Latin America, and then I pose the question: in the case of Don Quixote, Rocinante carried him, and in my case, I carry Rocinante—so who's the horse? But, indeed, Rocinante sometimes does get the tip of the hat in my narratives, and as in this case, so does Don Quixote: A Missed Opportunity, or Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone.
(As an aside: Don Quixote rides inside Rocinante—I am including a photo of my copy, which includes both volumes, which I picked up during my first Latin America sojourn many, many moons ago.)
AN: How did you come to write poetry? Why do you write?
LC: I have written poetry since I was eight years old. It has always been a part of me. Although I also write narratives, articles, and other prose works, poetry is the voice with which I feel most comfortable expressing myself.
There are two basic reasons why I write. One is that I know that many cannot travel, for many reasons (financial, familial responsibilities, obligations, health, etc.). With my poetry, I paint word-images and word-portraits of places and people I come to know, and thus share their landscapes, the his-/her-stories, the traditions and cultures with the people who read / listen to my poetry. Thus, I create bridges of understanding between us, to put a human face on the names of places.
The other reason is to teach, affirm, and inspire. The more I have traveled, there is one thing I have become more and more convinced of: Once we peel away the layers of geography, language, culture, etc., and arrive to the bare bones of life, we all share the same sorrows, the same joys—our lives are not so different.
AN: What do you hope people come away with from reading your poetry?
LC: I hope that people can—at least for a moment—experience being in another place, to learn something about it and, perhaps, inspire them to one day go and experience it themselves.
Fishermen in Huanchaco, on the Pacific coast of northern Peru, still use the traditional reed boats (caballitos de torora) much like their ancestors had. This small fishing village is a favorite haunt of mine for getting away and immersing myself into my writing.
Riding the Caballito
On the beach
caballitos de totora stand
below the malecón
One man binds
Turning the curved bow
towards the sea, he awaits
a wave to wash far in
Wades out, the boat bobbing
tide lapping around
He straddles the
bound reeds & with a
split bamboo pole
beyond the curling
Oft times inspiration for poetry comes when I am traveling from one place to another . . . and after falling asleep for awhile on a long journey, that sensation of awakening traversing through another landscape is something of a dream.
Like an Argentine Flag
& its heavy-forest hills
I fall asleep
& awaken near Güemes
Several western cordilleras
fade from dusky greens
Their summits nebulous
in this mid-afternoon
The pale blue of those distant mountains
the drifting white clouds
& the palest blue of sky above
Like an Argentine flag
Muisne is a small island just off the coast of northern Ecuador. Living there is very basic and laid back –despite the number of national tourists that come during holidays and on weekends. Very few foreigners come here. It is a wonderful place to come to during the low season and spend a week or so, just chatting with the locals, exploring the mangroves and enjoying the sea.
A Musine Night
Long ago the restaurants
closed, the day trippers
returned to the mainland,
vendors carted their stands
home, the last moto-taxi
left for the village.
Before midnight, a silken
rain begins to drape, slowly
dampening the beach
& sandy street.
& I awaken before
the dawn, the roads
black, the streetlights out.
& a black silence …
only the brilliant bans
of a steady ocean
creeping to shore.
In the dawn’s pale light,
at the island’s tip, mist
rises where the river
meets the sea.
Annie Newcomer teaches poetry classes at the University of Kansas Medical Center's Turning Point—a place for hope and healing for people suffering with chronic health problems. Her North Stars series shares interviews with poets and writers and Annie's own experiences through writing. Annie also helms the Flapper Press Poetry Café—dedicated to celebrating poets from around the world and to encouraging everyone to write poetry!
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