Like a swimmer I turn my head for a breath
As between the lanes I am passing through
To escape the fumes I move out of my depth
However my bike brings a new point of view.
The project Borracce di poesia – Water bottles of poetry – consists of a collection of almost 200 quatrains in Italian (one stanza of 4 lines, with 11 syllables in each line). The name was devised from the image of the water bottle on a bicycle that, instead of containing water, encloses a poem which, once read, refreshes the urban cyclist’s perspective of their daily cycle. In order to appeal to a wider audience, English versions of the poems are also available.
The project team consists of the project creator and poet (Alessandro Ricci), who works in collaboration with a photographer, graphic designer, web designer and English translator.
Urban cyclists encounter situations both risky and hilarious. The poet, when recounting his personal experiences to friends, discovered an enjoyment in turning these situations into rhymes and from this the project, as it is today, was born.
The poetical approach takes a light-hearted form to promote both the cyclist’s perspective of urban mobility and heighten the awareness of the problems that they encounter daily when getting from A-to-B. These difficulties include: encounters with other motorists, traffic jams, bike theft, road safety and the unpredictable nature of the weather.
Over the last few years the project has partaken in a number of cycling conferences and festivals throughout Italy, such as: Tweed Ride, 2013 (Rome; Milan); Bici Nuragica, 2012 (Sardinia); Bike Pride, 2011 (Turin); European Mobility Week, 2011 (Pescara) which consisted of two events: one thousand “poetic plates” were donated to the urban cyclists and an exhibition of other time bicycles and jerseys ; Scatti ciclabili, 2010 (Florence); Festival Lenti a contatto, 2010 (Mantova); Giornata nazionale della Bicicletta, 2010 (Pescara); Urban mobility Festival, 2010 (Pescara) (Watch the video); Anno della Bicicletta-Year of the bicycle, 2009 (Ferrara); Festival Nomadi e Stanziali, 2009 (Asti); Scatti ciclabili, 2009 (Pescara); L’eroica, 2008 (Gaiole in Chianti, Sienna); MTB Festival in the Aveto Park, 2008 (Genoa); Ciclomundi, 2007, 2008, 2010 (Portogruaro, Venice); Events organized by the “Amici della Bicicletta-Bicycle friends”, 2007, 2008 (Sienna).
Since 2012 Borracce di poesia supports the “Pazzo da viaggiare-Crazy to travel” project with a “Water bottle” donated to the creator who, travelling by bicycle in Europe, raises funds to install wells in Kenya.
During the last IndieRocket Festival (July and December, 2011 – Pescara) Borracce di poesia donated Water bottles to the spectators who reached the concert area by bicycle.
In August 2011 Borracce di poesia donated a Water bottle to a pair of Spanish long distance cyclists, Luis and Mercedes. They spent more than one year touring the Mediterranean coast by tandem.
Since 2008 examples of the poems have been put on three hundred bike-racks in the city of Pescara, Italy, where the project creator is based.
Borracce di poesia won the Cycling Visionaries Awards (in the Cycling and the arts section) organized by the Velo-City 2013 (The sound of cycling-Urban cycling cultures, Vienna, June 11-14). A rhyme has been chosen for a poster at the Velo-City in Nantes (June, 2015).
The project returned to the Austrian capital from the 13th to the 18th of September to participate in Radkult, a thematic festival that promotes the culture of the bicycle. Borracce di poesia held readings during which they have been distributed, amongst other things, one-hundred water-bottles each containing a “roll” with a rhyme dedicated to bicycles, chosen from those of the English versions. The translation of the quatrains into English, edited by Laura Pakes, began due to Velo-City.
The Borracce di poesia – Water bottles of poetry have been chosen by the Dutch Government to be distributed at the Cycling Festival Europe 2016.
In the beginning, the project consisted of public readings at cycling festivals throughout Italy. Members of the audience were invited to select a water bottle and read out loud the poem that was enclosed. Due to the success of these events a website was developed where poems are regularly uploaded alongside latest news and articles relating to the world of urban cycling.
Social-networking sites have enabled the poems to be read world-wide especially with the addition of English versions of the poems. However, on a more local scale, the project promotes the awareness of the urban cyclist by organising exhibitions and meetings with important members of the national community, as well as distributing the poems on bike racks and bicycles themselves to connect with individual cyclists.
A series of t-shirts bearing the project logo and poems are another form that the project has adopted to spread its message. Future projects include printing the poems onto other cycling equipment and accessories.borracce-di-poesia_-engsmall