Bosque School students Cheyenne ‘26 and Isa J. ‘26 are on a mission to showcase the beauty and diversity of their community in Albuquerque's South Valley. Together, they are working on a book of poems and paintings that will feature some of the prominent cultural buildings, places, and people in the area.
These talented young writers are teaming up with some well-renowned poets and artists, including Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet and filmmaker Jimmy Santiago Baca, former Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis J. Rodriguez, and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver, whose foundation granted permission for one of her most famous poems, “The Summer Day,” to be included in the book. The inclusion of this Mary Oliver poem is particularly special to Cheyenne because Mary Oliver was one of her grandfather’s favorite poets.
The book will also feature the paintings of South Valley artist Bill Mohr, who evokes the essence of the community through his depictions of local businesses and landmarks throughout the South Valley. His pieces capture the places and people both Cheyenne and Isa have known, loved, and grown-up with — Taqueria El Paisa, Chavez Martial Arts, tire shops, food trucks, the men selling paletas, community members, and many more.
Alongside the contributions of these acclaimed artists, the book will also feature the work of local youth poets, including 9-year-old Pheladi and Bosque School 8th grader Isabel Figueroa.
Cheyenne and Isa are both passionate about activism in their community and are actively involved in organizations such as La Plazita Institute and Crossroads for Women, which work to empower and heal those impacted by the cycles of incarceration.
Through their book, these young activists hope to inspire pride and connection to their culture and community. The book will be published in just three weeks, and the authors plan to distribute it for free to local school libraries and Little Free Libraries around the city.
Cheyenne sums up the motivation behind the project best, stating: “The poems featured in our book will show how beautiful, rich, and diverse our culture truly is in the South Valley. We want young people in our community to see themselves and where they live in the book. Native Americans, Chicanas, and Mexican Americans like us seldom see ourselves or where we live in books. We are proud of our culture and where we come from.”