As you might expect of the first-ever Poet Laureate for the city and founder of Beyond Poetry LLC, Bellamy seeks to reach a broader audience. (Not that Burque doesn't enthusiastically support poetry, but he wants more than literati in attendance.) So when organizing the fundraiser to help bankroll the next poet laureate, instead of the usual reading by some critically lauded poet most of the public has never even heard of, Bellamy organized a show headlined by comedian Jamie Kilstein—a former slam poet and co-host of the politically irreverent news and comedy podcast “Citizen Radio.” Kilstein has both ears and eyeballs around the globe, having appeared on “The Conan O'Brien Show,” “Totally Biased,” MSNBC, CNN and the BBC, played at the Sydney Opera House and opened for the band Bad Religion. His fans include Noam Chomsky and Janeane Garofalo, and his podcast, co-written with Allison Kilkenny, has covered topics largely ignored in the mainstream media, ranging from animal activists being labeled as domestic terrorists to tales of shady landlords.
But The Voting Machine Ate My Ballot and NOW WHAT!?!?, happening at ArtBar (119 Gold SW) on Friday, Nov. 15, isn't all Kilstein. It's a show about us in New Mexico. Opening with a “Daily Show”-esque comedy sketch written by locals Sarah Kennedy and Eric Griego, along with material from Bellamy, it also includes work from hip-hop artist/comedian Khalil Ekulona and comedy poet Rich Boucher. Kilstein still has some local connections, though, having performed in the Tricklock Company's Reptilian Lounge and the now-defunct Blue Dragon Coffee House, where Bellamy , a former journalist, was introduced to Kilstein's work.
That connection of community, politics, art and everyday life is vital for Bellamy. He believes this fundraiser is important for several reasons. The position of Poet Laureate isn’t funded by the City of Albuquerque, and he'd like his successor to have increased support over the modest stipend of $2,000, in order to reach more members of the community by participating in events whose sponsors can’t afford to pay an honorarium. "I've seen a change in me [since this appointment]," Bellamy says.
"What I realize is that we're all celebrating poetry in our own ways in our own space. I hope we've given these spaces and a way for people to connect and suggest poetry as a vehicle for improving community and their quality of life."