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Robert Bellamy, aka ScaleHamHawk da Poet, talks about his work, his muse, and his name

Robert Bellamy, known also as ScaleHamHawk Da Poet.
Robert Bellamy, known also as ScaleHamHawk Da Poet.

This week, WHQR’s Arts Reporter Demia Avery interviews artist and activist Robert Bellamy. In this excerpt, he speaks about his work founding the Speak Ya Peace poetry collective with his partner Laynee Cooper, one of his poems, and how he got his stage name — ScaleHamHawk da Poet.

*This project was supported by the North Carolina Arts Council, a Division for the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

Listen to Demia Avery's full interview with Robert Bellamy

Demia Avery: Hello everyone, this is Demia Avery with WHQR – please welcome the multitalented, multifaceted owner of Speak Ya Peace, Robert Bellamy, welcome.

Robert Bellamy: Thank you. Hi, how you doing?

DA: Oh, wonderful, wonderful. So, of course, I need to ask you, how did you get started in spoken word poetry and tell us more about Speak Ya Peace?

RB: Well, I got started just writing poetry. I wrote a poem almost 45 years ago about my brother, and it was “What is the world coming to?” And from that poem, I was writing poetry on my wall in the bedroom. And, then I stopped writing poetry until I met Layne, Laynee is actually my muse, you know. And so, when I met Laynee, I was writing love poetry. I was writing poetry, a political type poetry, okay. And it inspired me to decide to keep writing. And so I've been writing ever since. As far as Speak YA Peace, the birth of Speak Ya Peace started, like in 2019. But we really didn't get off the ground until 2021. We started off doing poetry at Speak Ya Peace, and then George Floyd, you know, the incident with George Floyd made us go into a deeper interest of speaking our peace, and bringing out just more than just poetry, talking about the political aspect of being oppressed and everything else during those times. That's, so that's one of the things that we did, with Speak Ya Peace.

DA: Now, tell me about your most emotional poem – and how was that for you?

RB: My most emotional poem is “The Ghost of my African roots.” I wrote that poem, Laynee and I was together, it was 2013, when I first wrote “The Ghost of myAfrican roots.” And it talks about how the Africans, we,as a black people, came here to America, and what happened to us on board those ships. And so when I dig deep down into reciting this poem, all of those feelings come out about the night when they attacked our village. And then they enslaved us. And, you know, I speak of a king who was enslaved, he died aboard the ship, but his family lived, but he, his spirit continued to stay with them, throughout their journey. He saw these things to his spirit. So “The Ghost of my African roots” was one of my really emotional poems. And it's one that I had been pushing over the years and I’d love people to hear it.

DA: So what is the name that you go by?

RB: Everybody knows me as ScaleHamHawk da Poet. That’s my name.

DA: How in the world did you come up with that?

RB: Okay, well, when I was a kid, you know, one day we had played hooky from school, my cousin and I, I was around maybe 10 years old. And we actually, we took a frying pan from the house, and we went fishing. Everybody scaled their fish, except for me. I didn't know I didn't know that you scale no fish. I'm frying my fish with the scales on it. So they started calling me scales. And because I like ham hocks, you know, they called me scale ham hock. I did not like that name. So I named myself scale ham hawk. Okay, like, you know, I wanted to be the big bird, not that damn ham hock.

DA: I want to thank Robert Bellamy for joining us today and sharing his story, so don't forget to check him out at his next events. This is Demia Avery for WHQR.

Robert Bellamy bio:

Robert W. Bellamy was born in the Carolinas. He always did well with sports as a youngster. He moved to Washington, DC at 14 years old. When he moved up North, he discovered that he enjoyed cooking. At an early age he began training with some of the great chefs and eventually he became a student at L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, MA. He went on to work in many restaurants within that Area. His love of sports never left him and led him to win the AAU for boxing in 1978, and the Golden Gloves Championship in 1979. Robert has proven himself to be a skilled man. His lived experiences have led him to writing. In the early 80’s he began writing and created a line of poetic cards as a hobby and sold them to various residents in the DC area. He eventually returned to the Carolinas and his love for the culinary arts opened doors for him in Wilmington, NC.

Once a writer always a writer, and in 2020 as co-founder he helped launch Speak Ya Peace NC. He performed his original poetry-spoken word at the Artworks in Wilmington, NC. Speak Ya Peace NC is an organization that creates platforms advocating equity, and social justice through the arts. This platform has become a safe space for community members, artists, and advocates to speak their peace. Speak Ya Peace NC has performed in many venues with the City of Wilmington NC and surrounding areas. There is also a music component through the band Soltree Reign that shares a message of Awareness, collective movement, and oneness through decolonizing the mind. On stage Robert is known as ScaleHamHawk Da Poet. Not only is he a prolific writer, but is equally funny and does comedy. He also is the percussionist in the band where he plays the congas.

Robert spends time advocating for children at the school board meeting. Through the non-profit “Love Our Children”. He also serves on the Juneteenth Committee in Wilmington and is a member of the National Black Leadership Caucus. Robert is a people lover; he loves to have engaging conversation. In his spare time, you can catch him in the thick of events interviewing, and catching memories. He is a self-trained videographer and enjoys connecting with people. Overall, Rob AKA ScaleHamHawk Da Poet is a down-to-earth, helpful, artistic, and kind gentlemen who Speaks his peace. You can find more information here.