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Milwaukee Poet Laureate

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.


April 2021 National Poetry Month

Each year, poets across the country brave the annual 30/30 Challenge, penning a poem each day of April's National Poetry Month.  You can find daily prompts and inspiration on FB and IG (Milwaukee Poet Laureate , Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Dasha Kelly Hamilton). To celebrate dragging our final scribbles across the finish line, we'll have a Dirty 30 Finale Reading on Friday, April 30 at 4 p.m. CST.  If you'd be willing to share one of your favorites from the month, please email us at poetrymke@gmail.com.

Daily Prompts:
  • April 1: Voice a thought you haven’t yet in a poem.
  • April 2: WATCH - Quiet Teacher: Poet Jacqueline Suskin
  • April 3: WATCH - SOCIAL DISTANCING: A Poem
  • April 4: Write a poem inspired by Maya Angelou.
  • April 5: Write a poem inspired by justice.
  • April 6: Your vote matters! Write a poem about why voting is important to you!
  • April 7: WATCH VIDEO
  • April 8: Write a poem about apologies, or the story behind this cake.
  • April 9: WATCH - "Caterpillar" by Ian Sanborn
  • April 10: Write a poem inspired by this art.
  • April 11: Write a haiku about your favorite childhood memory.
  • April 12: WATCH - Poemalogue: Samuel Thompson / Wonder
  • April 13: What is something you did during quarantine that you’re proud of?
  • April 14: WATCH VIDEO
  • April 15: Write a poem about a memory on wheels.
  • April 16: WATCH VIDEO
  • April 17: Shhh
  • April 18: Write about a hard truth “floating under the surface”.
  • April 19:  To be updated on this date.
  • April 20: Leaves and liberation! Do you have a “green” poem?

Dasha Kelly Hamilton Named Wisconsin Poet Laureate

Dasha Kelly Hamilton was named Wisconsin Poet Laureate for 2021-2022 by the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission. She will continue to serve as Milwaukee Poet Laureate through September 2021. Kelly Hamilton joins Marilyn L. Taylor as the only poet to have held both positions.

“It's beyond my dreams to represent poetry in my home city and for the state at the same time,” said Kelly Hamilton. “I’m looking forward to extending my poetic work as a community builder and change agent.”

The Wisconsin Poet Laureate plays a crucial role in keeping the arts accessible and vital to all age groups, and acts as a statewide emissary for poetry and creativity. As part of her personal project Kelly Hamilton will establish a poetry exchange between Wisconsin residents and poets in Wisconsin prisons, and encourage program partnerships between writing groups and penal institutions.


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 impacted 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.  


Need something to read? Librarians from the Milwaukee Public Library and special guest Dasha Kelly Hamilton, Milwaukee Poet Laureate, share a list of curated books on the theme "In Short." Dasha Kelly Hamilton reads from her upcoming book "Life, in Short."

Milwaukee Poet Laureate Dasha Kelly Hamilton wrote an original poem celebrating the library which she debuted at the 2020 Benjamin Franklin Award Celebration organized by the Milwaukee Public Library Foundation.

Photo credit: Andrew Feller Photography