Dasha Kelly Hamilton Becomes The First Black Woman Named Wisconsin’s Poet Laureate


January 12, 2021

Cheers to her!

Dasha Kelly Hamilton is making history as the first Black woman to hold the title of Wisconsin Poet Laureate, TMJ4 reports. 


The Wisconsin Poet Laureate named Kelly Hamilton as the 2021-2022 Wisconsin Poet Laureate, she is the first Black woman to hold the title in the institution’s 20-year history. According to The Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, & Letters, since 2000, Wisconsin’s governor has appointed four Poets Laureate, initially starting as a four-year term position and transitioning to two-year terms in 2008. The Academy spearheads the program in partnership with the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission. 

Nick Demske, Chair of the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission, spoke about Kelly Hamilton’s appointment, saying, “Dasha Kelly Hamilton’s infectious energy and demonstrated history of transforming lives through the written and spoken word make her the perfect ambassador for poetry in the state of Wisconsin. Her reputation precedes her, and we know that Wisconsin residents will benefit in many ways from this outstanding poet.”


A veteran writer, Kelly Hamilton will “play a crucial role in keeping the arts accessible and vital to all age groups, and acts as a statewide emissary for poetry and creativity.” She hopes to utilize her new platform to unite residents across Wisconsin and establish an exchange program for incarcerated writers.

“My practice as a writer and cultural organizer connects me to a spectrum of conversations and communities. For 20 years, I’ve invited folks to lean into the experience of creating and sharing poems as entry points for reflection, for discovery, for celebrating truth. I’ve seen communities built and individuals fortified through poems and spoken word. I’m honored to continue building community across the state as Wisconsin Poet Laureate, and look forward to establishing a poetry exchange between traditional residents and writer residents in Wisconsin prisons,” Kelly Hamilton said.

Kelly Hamilton is Wisconsin’s ninth Poet Laureate. 


Congratulations, Dasha!

Photo Courtesy of Dasha Kelly/Website

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