An Evening with Dasha Kelly

green leaf on pile of books

The evening was intimate.

If intimate can be me, one of my friends, and dozens of other area residents.

From the moment Dasha spoke, I was hooked. Her words made me think, laugh, tear up. It felt personal.

Dasha Kelly Hamilton’s ability to convey feeling and emotion in her words was transfixing. As an anonymous member of the audience said, we were not worthy of her manifestation.

But Dasha seems to see the worth in all humanity – from her work with children to corporate groups to prison inmates, she has helped people from all walks of life tell their story and come together through poetry, writing, and creative thinking.

With Dasha, poetry was song, movement, food, and simplicity. As she said, sometimes the right word in a poem really is “booger”.

She also said, “every heartbeat is a poem”. I memorized those words on my heart; I repeated them like a mantra until I could write them down because I, being a forgetful person, didn’t want to forget.

Wisconsin Poet Laureate Dasha Kelly Hamilton during a speaking engagement

Dasha has a variety of projects, including A Line Meant. This project provides a poem prompt each month, and once you submit you can view the other submissions. It also asks for background on how you came up with your poem. I just submitted one today and it’s so interesting to see what other people come up with and learn where their inspiration came from.

…every heartbeat is a poem

Dasha has written two novels as well as poetry works. If she ever makes audiobook versions, I will be all over those!

One of her bigger projects is “Making Cake” which explores race, class, and equity through the history of cake.

Between writing, guiding, and making the world a better place, it is no wonder she calls herself a “creative change agent”.

So, the evening was personal after all. I spoke with Dasha after and she was encouraging and engaging, and it was inspiring. It reinforced my desire to continue my education in English teaching so that I can share a love of reading and storytelling with others.

Dasha Kelly Hamilton was the 2019-2021 Milwaukee Poet Laureate and is also the first Black woman to be named the Wisconsin Poet Laureate. What an honor to have her visit our rural area by the bay!

And many thanks to the local organizers who put this on. I won’t share who since I don’t want to give away too much of my location, but they are in my heart.

For more information on Dasha, check out these pages:
Black is Beautiful: Dasha Kelly Hamilton (
Dasha Kelly Hamilton | Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission
Past Milwaukee Poets Laureate · MPL

YouTube videos:
Dear Poet 2022: Dasha Kelly Hamilton Reads, “All the Lives We Are” – YouTube
Truth in Writing Workshop with Dasha Kelly Hamilton – YouTube
Book Chat with Special Guest Dasha Kelly Hamilton – YouTube

With micro-bites of discourse, Oak & River Books goes beyond a ratings system.

Success! You're on the list.

Published by Oak + River Books

On a mission to explore the relationship between literature and nature.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: