The Milwaukee Poet Laureate project, initiated in February 2000, is a program of the Milwaukee Public Library, funded by the Friends of the Library, and administered by Woodland Pattern.
The project committee selects a local poet to serve as Milwaukee Poet Laureate for a two-year term. The poet laureate makes several guest appearances during the term, promoting poetry throughout the community.
2019-2021 Poet Laureate: Dasha Kelly Hamilton
Dasha Kelly Hamilton is a writer, performance artist and creative change agent. Through responsive and respectful intentionality, Dasha leverages the creative process to facilitate critical dialogues around human and social wellness. Dasha delivers her engagement sessions to campuses, classrooms, correctional institutions, association conferences, social service agencies, municipal departments and team retreats.
Her nonprofit, Still Waters Collective, has curated poetry programming and spoken word events in the region for almost 20 years. The work has impacting more than 13,000 youth, provided professional development to more than 100 young people and created platforms for thousands of voices to be honored and heard.
Dasha has written for national, regional and local magazines; produced three collections of poetry; recorded four spoken word CDs; and published two novels. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University and has taught writing courses at Mount Mary University, Alverno College and UW-Milwaukee. Dasha served as an Arts Envoy for the U.S. Embassy to teach, perform and facilitate community building initiatives in Botswana and the island of Mauritius.
Past Milwaukee Poets Laureate
John Koethe 2000-2001
Marilyn Taylor 2004-2005
Peggy Hong 2006-2007
Susan Firer 2008-2009
Brenda Cárdenas 2010-2011
Jim Chapson 2013-2015
Jeff Poniewaz 2013-2015
Matt Cook 2015-2017
Roberto Harrison 2017-2019