Taos po­ets speak up for Mother Earth in Taos En­vi­ron­men­tal Film Festival event

Tempo - - CONTENTS - By Laura Bulkin

T he Taos En­vi­ron­men­tal Film Festival will con­tinue its tra­di­tion of join­ing with the So­ci­ety of the Muse of the South­west to present a col­lab­o­ra­tive event. This year, the theme is “Po­ets for the En­vi­ron­ment.” Five po­ets will present their

work Wednesday (April 18) at 7 p.m. at SO­MOS, 108-B Civic Plaza Drive in Taos.

Film­maker and festival or­ga­nizer Jean Stevens con­ceived of the idea of an an­nual SO­MOS event as a prologue to the festival. “Past pre­sen­ters have in­cluded John Ni­chols, Brian Shields, John Suazo and Claire Coté, among oth­ers,” she said. “This year I de­cided to in­vite stu­dent po­ets to per­form with the sea­soned pro­fes­sion­als. I asked Jan Smith, the di­rec­tor of SO­MOS, to cu­rate three youth po­ets.”

The event’s “sea­soned pro­fes­sion­als” are Anne MacNaughton and Ju­dith Rane.

Poet, au­thor and artist MacNaughton is a co-founder of SO­MOS and di­rec­tor of the leg­endary Taos Po­etry Cir­cus. She teaches writ­ing, and coaches recita­tion and per­for­mance. Her po­ems have ap­peared in nu­mer­ous jour­nals and an­tholo­gies. She is also a re­cip­i­ent of the New Mex­ico Lit­er­ary As­so­ci­a­tion’s Grat­i­tude Award.

Writer and ac­tor Rane has been act­ing since a gram­mar school per­for­mance of “The Prince and the Pau­per.” She was a mem­ber of Theatre Space act­ing com­pany in Van­cou­ver, Canada in the 1980s and stud­ied clown­ing and street the­ater there. She has ap­peared in New Mex­ico-based tele­vi­sion and film pro­duc­tions, in­clud­ing “Break­ing Bad,” “In Plain Sight,” and “Lemon­ade Mouth.” Rane was a found­ing mem­ber of Taos Read­ers’ Theatre in the late 1990s.

The three stu­dent po­ets are Ella Aquino, Leah Ep­stein and Ko­rah Gar­ner.

Aquino is a 12-year-old writer. Her artist bio states: “She hap­pens to have one very pil­low-like cat, one very adorable dog, and a fan­tas­tic mother. Dun­geons and Dragons, school and sleep­ing take up ap­prox­i­mately 87.381 per­cent of her time, and the other 12 per­cent is stuck in limbo be­tween day­dream­ing, read­ing and fran­ti­cally scrib­bling ideas onto some sort of sur­face.” Sam­ples of Aquino’s po­etry on the SO­MOS web­site re­veal an eru­dite poet pro­duc­ing pro­found and beau­ti­ful work that would be im­pres­sive in an artist of any age.

Six­teen-year-old Ep­stein is a ju­nior at Taos High School. “I’m the stu­dent in­tern at SO­MOS this year and am in­volved in the young writ­ers’ pro­gram there,” she said. “I’m very ex­cited to read at the Po­ets for the En­vi­ron­ment event. I’m look­ing for­ward to hear­ing ev­ery­one’s en­vi­ron­men­tal po­ems and read­ing my own. I think that as writ­ers in this day and age, it is cru­cial that we use our voices to ef­fect change and ex­press our opin­ions. Po­etry can be very pow­er­ful.”

Ep­stein said that the event’s theme rep­re­sents a new cre­ative genre for her. “This is def­i­nitely a bit dif­fer­ent than most of my other work. I gen­er­ally write about very per­sonal sub­jects such as emo­tions and hu­man re­la­tion­ships. I’m glad that I was given this op­por­tu­nity to go out of my com­fort zone. As to the en­vi­ron­ment, I think it’s im­per­a­tive that we keep rais­ing ev­ery­one’s aware­ness as to the im­por­tance of im­me­di­ate ac­tion in any way pos­si­ble. Even if noth­ing can be done to re­verse the ef­fects of cli­mate change at present, I be­lieve whole­heart­edly that ev­ery­one should still do their part to re­duce waste and re­al­ize that this is our one and only home that we are de­stroy­ing.”

Multi-tal­ented writer, ac­tor and mu­si­cian Gar­ner was re­cently seen play­ing the role of Mer­cu­tio in Taos High School’s pro­duc­tion of Wil­liam Shake­speare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” The THS se­nior has been act­ing, singing and play­ing gui­tar since the age of eight and be­gan writ­ing po­etry in Fran­cis Hahn’s class in her fresh­man year.

Gar­ner has been do­ing in­depth re­search and writ­ing on en­vi­ron­men­tal top­ics for some time. “It’s a concern that we are lit­er­ally de­stroy­ing our planet and call­ing it progress,” she said. “We hu­mans have a weird way of think­ing that we’re so su­pe­rior to other crea­tures, and we con­vince our­selves that we know more than they do. But other crea­tures at least go with what they feel is right with all their in­stincts.”

She em­pha­sized the need for per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity in ap­proach­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues. “It’s easy to just blame politi­cians, but the change needs to come in each in­di­vid­ual. We have a mar­ket econ­omy. If we didn’t buy all this plastic garbage, they wouldn’t keep pro­duc­ing it.”

She spoke about the sense of sepa­ra­tion from the nat­u­ral world that af­fects many peo­ple. “Look­ing at the Amer­i­can psy­che, it’s like we view na­ture as an oc­ca­sional state, in­stead of the re­al­ity. We ex­pe­ri­ence a type of satori when we go out in the woods, but then we come back to ‘re­al­ity’ as if na­ture is ‘over there some­place’ in­stead of run­ning through ev­ery­thing in our lives. Hu­mans could be the con­nec­tion be­tween the ter­res­trial and the ce­les­tial, but in­stead we’re act­ing like func­tion­ing cogs in a big ma­chine and com­mit­ting mass sui­cide. By de­stroy­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, we’re de­stroy­ing our­selves.”

Gar­ner said she was look­ing for­ward to bring­ing the artistry of words to the en­vi­ron­men­tal theme. “Po­etry can have a real and last­ing ef­fect. Any art form is an ex­pres­sion of hu­man suf­fer­ing and beauty. It’s all a bal­ance of good and bad, the beau­ti­ful as­pects of hu­man­ity as well as the shadow side. Art is so pow­er­ful as an ex­pres­sion of emo­tion that brings us to­gether. Ul­ti­mately, it’s all inside of all of us.”


TAOS POET Ko­rah Gar­ner


POET Ju­dith Rane


POET Anne Mac­Naughton

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