Speak for yourself

Poet Akyra Cordova

Winter was turning to spring when the film crew followed the poet down the trail at Cerro Gordo.

“Everything was just starting to turn green. The watershed had thawed, and there was a lot of running water,” says Matt Sanford, director of I AM, a short film featuring readings of original poems and spoken word performances by eight young artists from Santa Fe, Taos, and Albuquerque: 2020 Santa Fe Youth Poet Laureate Artemisio Romero y Carver, 18; Akyra Cordova, 18; Yovanna Estrada, 18; JezuDePaz, 23; Llamas, 18; Blanca Ortiz, 24; Teresa Romero, 17; and Arwen Scarlata, 16.

“Teresa Romero’s poem is very much about the freshness of new life and new beginnings. There’s a lot of imagery about the green of new time and water moving. The parallels between the location and her piece instantly spoke to me when I read her work,” Sanford says.

Sanford is a member of the artistic team of Ironweed Productions, a local theater company that produced I AM. All of the pieces were written around the theme of hope and workshopped under the mentorship of Israel Francisco Haros Lopez, co-founder and art director of Alas De Agua Art Collective. Sanford collaborated with the poets to select shooting locations, which included the Cross of the Martyrs, the First Judicial District Court, and the Rail Trail underpass at St. Francis Drive and Cerrillos Road. The reading of the title poem, by Cordova, was done at San Isidro Park, a restored area of the Santa Fe River that used to be a somewhat perilous shortcut between Agua Fria and Alameda, on the city’s west side.

“It was the place you knew you could get across, without having to go all the way over to Baca Street,” Sanford says. “It cut directly across an arroyo. When I was a kid, we’d go play around there. There were old cars that had been swept away in flash floods that people had tried to brave, lodged in the embankments of the arroyo. That piece particularly resonated with me because so much of what she talks about is being ‘half’ growing up in Santa Fe — your lineage being half this longstanding Northern New Mexican Hispanic family, and then this Anglo side as well. That’s my experience, too. She’s crafting hope in the face of these conflicting senses of self.”

I AM premieres in a free screening at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 13, at Teatro Paraguas (3205 Calle Marie), followed by a reception. 505-470-3851, ironweedsantafe.com

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