Slammed at the Festival
Jessica Helen Lopez
AUTHOR: SONNIE SUSSILLO
In 2013, the Southwest Festival of the Written Word (the Festival) paired two Poets Laureate on the stage together: our own Bonnie Buckley Maldonado, first Poet Laureate of Silver City, and a young man who writes and performs slam poetry, Hakim Bellamy. Hakim was the first Poet Laureate of Albuquerque.
The room was SRO; I assume most of the folks in the room were there to hear Bonnie read. She didn’t disappoint us.
And then Hakim took the stage…
And he was riveting. He delivered powerful words with intense dramatic voice. His performance was a wonderful complement to Bonnie’s western-flavored gentler reading. As I recall, the audience gave them a standing O.
I have to admit, I have rarely heard slam poetry, however when I learned that Hakim is coming back for the Festival in October 2015, I did a little online poking around to see what he’s written lately.
In addition to watching several of his performances on YouTube, I discovered that he has delivered two TEDxABQ talks. Both are well worth watching: one had me cheering at my computer; both had me clapping.
Hakim is now the past Poet Laureate of Albuquerque; Jessica Helen Lopez was designated Poet Laureate of Albuquerque in April 2014.
Jessica is a nationally recognized award-winning slam poet, and holds the title of “2012 and 2014 Women of the World (WOW) City of ABQ” Champion.
I tracked her down on YouTube, where several of her reading-performances are recorded. She frames woman-power in emotionally delivered stories beginning with her childhood tomboy-self, kicking balls with All Them Boys and preferring the monkey bars over the 6th grade heart-throb in Kissy Kissy. She tells of being Wednesday’s Wife and, separately, the mother of a sleepy, sweaty 12-year old daughter.
Watching her on YouTube reinforces: You don’t read slam poetry. You have to see it, hear it, feel it.
Jessica gave a TEDxABQ presentation entitled Spoken Word Poetry that tells Herstory, in which she speaks about writing as a woman and then performs two of her poems.
Hakim and Jessica are scheduled to share the stage at the 2015 Festival in October, here in Silver City NM, and I fully expect that together, they will deliver another SRO performance, speaking in two unique yet universal voices.
I plan to be in the front row! Join me!