Previous Poets Laureate

2016-18 Albuquerque Poet Laureate

Manuel Gonzalez is the third Poet Laureate of Albuquerque, NM.  A performance poet who began his career in the poetry slam, Manuel has represented Albuquerque four times as a member of the ABQ Slam Team at the National Poetry Slam.  Manuel has appeared on the NMPBS show, Colores:  My Word is My Power, and is one of the founding members of the poetry troupe The Angry Brown Poets.  Manuel teaches workshops on self-expression through poetry in high schools and youth detention centers.  He has also worked with art therapists to help incarcerated young men find an outlet to express themselves.  Manuel was a also a coach and mentor for the the Santa Fe High Poetry Slam Team for four years.


Manuel’s connection to his poetry and culture helps him connect with students.  By teaching poetry as a means for self-expression, his students are given the opportunity to explore their own culture.  Building up self esteem, finding something to say, figuring out how to say it eloquently, and letting your voice be heard are just some of the benchmarks in Manuel’s workshops.

Manuel is from Albuquerque.  His mother’s family is from Barelas and his father’s family is from a small town in northern New Mexico called Anton Chico.  Manuel’s father (Manny Gonzalez) was the founder of the band Manny and the Casanovas, pioneers of traditional New Mexico music.  Manuel identifies himself as being Chicano and the history, culture, and spirituality of his people are among his inspirations.

“I’m proud to be from New Mexico!” says Manuel.  “And to me it’s more than just green chile and desert. It’s seeing the value of our familia, our community, our traditions, and our culture.  It’s the Rio valley and the Santuario de Chimayo.  It is feasts. dance, poetry, and prayer.”

2014-16 Albuquerque Poet Laureate

Jessica Helen Lopez was the Albuquerque Poet Laureate (2014-16). She has also been a featured writer for 30 Poets in their 30’s by MUZZLE magazine. Lopez is a nationally recognized award-winning slam poet, and holds the title of the 2012 and 2014 Women of the World (WOW) City of ABQ Champion.


Photo Courtesy of Gina Marselle

Lopez is also a member of the Macondo Foundation. Founded by Sandra Cisneros, it is an association of socially engaged writers united to advance creativity, foster generosity, and honor community.

Her first collection of poetry, Always Messing With Them Boys (West End Press, 2011) made the Southwest Book of the Year reading list and was also awarded the Zia Book Award presented by NM Women Press. She is the founder of La Palabra – The Word is a Woman collective created for and by women and gender-identified women and a Ted Talk speaker alum.

Her work has been anthologized in A Bigger Boat: The Unlikely Success of the Albuquerque Slam Scene (UNM Press), Earth Ships: A New Mecca Poetry Collection(NM Book Award Finalist), Tandem Lit Slam (San Francisco), Adobe Walls, Malpais Review, SLAB Literary Magazine and the upcoming Courage Anthology: Daring Poems for Gutsy Girls (Write Bloody Press).

2012-14 Albuquerque Poet Laureate

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.

Photo by Wes Naman

Photo by Wes Naman

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. This year Bellamy was named a W. K. Kellogg Foundation Fellow and was awarded the Food Justice Residency at Santa Fe Art Institute. Recently, Bellamy was named Local iQ‘s “Best Poet” for the fifth consecutive year on their annual Smart List, and he has been named “Best Poet” in the Weekly Alibi‘s annual Best of Burque poll every year since 2010. 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. Having recently released his first book, Swear, Hakim was conferred his Masters Degree in Communications at the University of New Mexico in May. Currently completing multidisciplinary arts projects from his travels to Turkey and Nepal this summer, Bellamy has had his work featured on AlterNet, Truthout, CounterPunch and the nationally syndicated Tavis Smiley Radio Show. He is the proud father of a 7 year-old miracle and is the founding president of Beyond Poetry LLC.

Hakim’s journey as a poet has come full circle as of late, wearing the hat of musician. A product of the Hip Hop generation and influenced by his parents extensive wax collection (which included the likes of Janis Joplin, Sly and The Family Stone, Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles, The Grateful Dead, Gil Scott Heron, The Temptations, Teddy Pendergrass & The Last Poets), Bellamy is equal parts musical artist, archivist and archeologist. He digs music. Piano lessons, recitals and many years singing in the church choir prepared him for the funk-infused, experimental yet melodic brand of Hip Hop that he produces today with creative partner Colin “Diles” Hazelbaker. His eclectic music background and vision is literally front and center as lead vocalist, emcee and singer-songwriter in his band Waylaid (with Hoofer/Tap Dancer Donne “Wychdokta” Lewis on feet and bass, and Stuart “Fish Out ‘O Water” Smith on guitar, percussion, peddles and buttons). He’s shared the musical stage with Zion-I, The Wailers, The Last Poets, Amiri Baraka, Cecil Taylor & Blacklisted Individuals. For over two years he has staffed a bi-weekly music column in Albuquerque. In 2013 Bellamy won his first New Mexico Music Award in the category of Best Hip-Hop for his song Ain’t Nothing Better Than That produced by Tuman Productions (ABQ, NM).

As an actor, Hakim has grown his talent on both the screen and the stage. He made a cameo in the independent film Romeo & Juliet Vs. The Living Dead (2009) and has made multiple appearances in local commercials (Television and Radio). He has done voice work for television and radio, worked for two years as a radio journalist at KUNM 89.9FM in Albuquerque, NM and has been cast as an extra in such films/tv shows as Gamer (2009), Swing Vote (2009) & Crash the Television Series, Season II (2010). On the stage Hakim was cast in a major role in the 2009 Albuquerque production of The Exonerated, produced by In the summer of 2011, Hakim secured a major role as the Friar in the Vortex Theater’s Summer Shakespeare Festival production of Romeo & Juliet for a 14 show run. In 2013, Bellamy was cast in the 2011Pulitzer Prize wining play Clybourne Park to great reviews. Most recently, in 2014 he played the iconic role of Tom Robinson in Harper Lee’s classic To Kill A Mockingbird.He has since co-written and starred in Urban Verbs: Hip Hop Conservatory & Theater with his creative partners Carlos Contreras and Colin Diles Hazelbaker, currently booking tour dates for their second originally written show in the summer of 2015.

Reach Hakim at “beyond.poetry” at “writeme” dot “com”

or on Facebook at Facebook dot com/hakimbe


or on Twitter at Twitter dot com/hakimbe (@HakimBe)

The work Hakim did during his inaugural term as poet laureate.  Hakim Events Appearances