Onna Tuesday: Poetry from Hakim Bellamy and Carlos Contreras
It is with this offering to the communities we come from and have come to represent that Hakim Bellamy and I, Carlos Contreras, pledge to continue to write, speak, and act. As poets, fathers, activists, and artists, these words hold truth, growth, and pain. From these places we develop our respective crafts, like so many practitioners who came before us – without space carved out – it has been created, and so from this place, we create. Listen, hear us, see us, and render yourself audible, visible, and important, along with us. In the beginning was the word – word
The contents of this collection takes titles of popular Rap songs from the 80s forward and uses them as the titles of poems by Albuquerque’s Inaugural Poet Laureate, Hakim Bellamy and myself Carlos Contreras. The connection, we were raised on these “war songs,” they became our battle cries, and from the throws of these trenches, we’ve created a reality for ourselves by continuing to use the voices given to us by those who came before us.
The recognition gifted to Bellamy and I, by the cultural producers of the 80s and 90s Rap era is then, that our voices matter – that as men (and women as well for all the female poets and artists of color in this world, in solidarity) we have the need and right to express ourselves, to paint ourselves visible, and to continue to call for change, equity, and understanding, as we aim to understand, appreciate and love ourselves first, with hopes that the favor will be returned.
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Carlos Contreras is the Community Engagement Strategist at ProgressNow NM, a Kellogg Community Leadership Network Fellow, and a Masters Student in the Department of American Studies at the University of New Mexico. Contreras is also currently an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Chicano/a Studies. He is a community organizer, artist, father, and human being. Contreras works daily to try and make the community he lives in a better place for everyone who lives there too. Contreras specializes in event coordination and creation – as well as collaborative art, writing and performance coaching, by way of his own small business, Immastar Productions (www.Immastarproductions.com). He is a published author (Time Served, West End Press 2014) and National Champion performance poet, working to create space for artists in Albuquerque, in ways that don’t exist. He believes that #ArtIsEconomicDevelopment and #CommunityIsInCollaboration.
As the inaugural Poet Laureate of Albuquerque, NM (2012-2014), Hakim Bellamy is a national and regional Poetry Slam Champion, and holds three consecutive collegiate poetry slam titles at the University of New Mexico. His poetry has been published in on the Albuquerque Convention Center, on the outside of a library, in inner-city buses and in numerous anthologies across the globe. Bellamy was recognized as an honorable mention for the University of New Mexico Paul Bartlett Ré Peace Prize for his work as a community organizer and journalist in 2007, and was awarded the Emerging Creative Bravos Award by Creative Albuquerque in 2013. In 2014, Bellamy was named a W. K. Kellogg Foundation Fellow and was awarded the Food Justice Residency at Santa Fe Art Institute. Bellamy has been named “Best Poet” in the Weekly Alibi’s annual Best of Burque poll every year since 2010. His first book, SWEAR (West End Press/UNM Press) won the Tillie Olsen Award for Creative Writing from the Working Class Studies Association. He is the co-creator of the multimedia Hip Hop theater production Urban Verbs: Hip-Hop Conservatory & Theater that has been staged throughout the country. He facilitates youth writing workshops for schools, jails, churches, prisons and community organizations in New Mexico and beyond. Currently, Bellamy is completing multidisciplinary arts projects (manuscripts) from his travels to Turkey, Nepal and time he recently spent with His Holiness Dalai Lama XXIV. Bellamy has had his work featured on AlterNet, Truthout, CounterPunch and the nationally syndicated Tavis Smiley Radio Show. He is the on-air television host for New Mexico PBS’s ¡COLORES! Program. Bellamy holds an M.A. in Communications from the University of New Mexico, is the Creative Writing & Literature Department Chair at New Mexico School for the Arts and is the proud father of a 10 year-old miracle and is the founding president of Beyond Poetry LLC.
Cover Arty by Anthony Evans