I am continually grateful to this community for allowing me to be the vehicle for which “artistic creation” and “dreams” have been given a prominent presence in the media. Now, (the business part) if you are a foundation, philanthropist, angel investor in social entrepreneurship or a venture capitalist…PLEASE contact me. I peddle in dreams and I specialize in making them come true…preferably for others…and if I am lucky, for myself.
Thank you Adrian Gomez and Pat Vasquez-Cunningham of the Albuquerque Journal.
You can click through the picture to the story at ABQJournal.com or you can read the article text below. - hb
by Adrian Gomez
Hyper-creative. Dreamer. Passionate. These words are what Hakim Bellamy uses to describe himself.
“I’m an idea factory,” he quips during a recent interview. “I have the visions, but it takes an entire group of people help me fulfill these visions. Other people have venture capitalists. I’m a dream capitalist.”
Bellamy, a New Jersey native but an Albuquerque resident since 2005, was on April 14 named Albuquerque’s poet laureate, the city’s first.
With the announcement the Duke City joins the ranks of Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Santa Fe as cities with poet laureates. There are also 42 states, New Mexico being one, that have state-level poet laureates.
“It’s a big deal and I take the honor very seriously,” he says. “There’s an opportunity for me to set the standard with this position. I have the honor for two years and I have to just get going.”
With the addition of poet laureate, Bellamy has to balance a few other titles with it — community leader, visionary, writer and dad.
“I feel like I’m always going, but that’s a good feeling to have,” he says. “There’s always time for my poetry at 3 a.m. when the entire world is quiet.”
Bellamy’s first task at hand is bringing poetry into the public schools.
“My goal is to make poetry matter to people and places it doesn’t matter,” he says. “We have to get children involved with poetry at a young age just so they experience it.”
One of Bellamy’s goals is to have poetry included in more city activities.
“I want more people to be comfortable with consuming poetry,” he says. “I want to get local businesses involved in putting poetry out there. Maybe go to your favorite eatery and see a poem posted at the front.”
Bellamy also wants to instill that fact that everybody’s life is interesting.
“I talk with kids and they think that there is nothing to say about their life,” he explains. “But each life is unique and interesting. That’s what makes this world great. You can grow up in the same town or household, yet have a different view to life.”
While Bellamy is proud of the honor of poet laureate, he admits there was a point when he wasn’t going to apply. He was asked to be part of the committee that chooses the winner but declined.
“There was a point when I felt because I wasn’t a native New Mexican, I didn’t deserve to apply,” he says. “I talked to my friend Carlos Contreras about it and then I started getting calls from other poets encouraging me to apply.”
Bellamy says the process was rigorous and detailed.
“There were so many parts that I wanted to get it all done correctly,” he says.
Don McIver, a member of the organizing committee for the Albuquerque Poet Laureate Program, says after the rigourous application process, there were six complete applications. The Albuquerque Poet Laureate Program celebrates poetry by offering a resident poet who makes meaningful connections, honors and serves our diverse community, elevates the importance of the art form, and shares poetry with Albuquerque residents.
“Hakim is a great choice for poet laureate,” McIver says. “Not only is a he a good poet, a good performer, but he understands the public role a poet laureate must play in service to the larger poetry community and Albuquerque.”
Bellamy is certainly no stranger to the poetry scene in Albuquerque, and it all started after he followed his then-girlfriend to the Duke City.
He is a national and regional Poetry Slam Champion and holds three consecutive collegiate poetry slam titles at the University of New Mexico.
He has been published in various anthologies in Albuquerque and is the co-creator of the multimedia hip-hop theater production “Urban Verbs: Hip-Hop Conservatory & Theater.”
“When I moved here, I wanted to immerse myself in everything,” he says. “Seven years later, I’m still immersed in all of it and I’m still enjoying myself. I miss the ocean at times but now I’ve got mountains.”
Bellamy says he got interested in poetry at a young age and credits his parents with the influence.
“They were reading Gil Scott-Heron and listening to Sly and the Family Stone when I was growing up,” he says. “But then as I was growing up, I started listening to more hip-hop and rap and loved the words of A Tribe Called Quest and bands like those. They were rapping and giving me a glimpse into their life without the profanity. I was instantly hooked.”
As Bellamy moves forward with his new position, he hopes to positively represent the city.
“It’s going to be a lot of work, and raising money for functions is the biggest challenge,” he says. “The truth is that it takes a lot of people to help me balance everything that I do and I am grateful to have them in my life.”
In addition to Bellamy taking on this new responsibility, he also will keep his day job as the strategic communications director for the Media Literacy Project at Albuquerque Academy.
“The job helps keep the academic side of me intact,” he says. “I get to delve into creating curriculum for future students, and that’s an amazing feeling.”