Sweet Conversations with Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Dasha Kelly Hamilton

February 16, 2024

Broaden your perspective on race, culture and class by joining Wisconsin Poet Laureate, writer and performance artist, Dasha Kelly Hamilton in her upcoming spoken word performance of “Makin’ Cake” on February 27, 2024. In the intimate setting of the Kimberly-Clark Theater, audiences will be served layered storytelling through the eyes of baking and American history.

Purchase your tickets to the 7:30 p.m. performance here. Patrons are invited to a cake reception/discussion in Thrivent Hall and a meet and greet in the Main Lobby after the performance. Follow up Dasha Kelly Hamilton’s deeper dialogue by attending the Truth Evolution Workshop on February 28 at 6:30 p.m. (doors open at 6:00 p.m.) in the Kimberly-Clark Theater. It is not required to attend Dasha Kelly Hamilton in Makin’ Cake before this workshop, but it is recommended. This workshop is in partnership with the League of Women Voters of Appleton-Fox Cities and is made possible by the generous support of the Community First Credit Union.

Since she was a child, Dasha has been writing stories. “My mother encouraged every possible creative endeavor, from drawing and crafts to music and making up stories,” Dasha shared. As early as first grade, Dasha had a poem published in a Highlights Magazine. In fourth grade, her mother encouraged her to submit her short story to a contest with their local library. “I never submitted my story because I’d written double the word count and didn’t want to stop,” she remarked. “Fiction has been my first love ever since. I didn’t return to poetry again until my late twenties.”

For more than 20 years, Dasha has been an instructor and a teaching artist, going into colleges, conferences and classrooms. “Over the years I’ve learned that, if I cast that spell just right, the people in the room will suspend their habits of conversation and be authentic and present in whatever conversation I present,” Dasha commented. “So, I conjure and facilitate more than I teach. Being creative together in a room of humans embracing vulnerability ultimately leads us to being vulnerable together.” In her workshops, Dasha specifically focuses on ideation, story building and editing.

I’ve found the most impactful experience for any room is to reintroduce people to their creative genius and capacity for empathy. From third graders to graduate students, business executives to inmates, every room experiences a fellowship in honest conversation.
Dasha Kelly Hamilton - Wisconsin Poet Laureate/writer/performance artist

Named as Milwaukee’s 11th Poet Laureate in 2019 and the 2021-2022 Wisconsin Poet Laureate was a surreal and affirming experience for Dasha, especially as she held both of the positions concurrently. “I’d been a passionate advocate and an innovative leader in writing communities that crossed the state,” she shared. During her time in these positions, Dasha considered programming and initiatives that would be safe to offer during the pandemic. As Milwaukee Laureate, Dasha launched a virtual conversation series called Poemalogues, where she recorded expansive conversations with a wide range of people with a poetry prompt as their shared starting point. As Wisconsin State Laureate, she launched an initiative called A Line Meant which was designed to engage and showcase incarcerated writers.

Having written for various magazines on the national, regional and local level, produced books of poetry, recorded spoken word albums, voice-overs, published novels, and more, Dasha has had a very successful career. “My husband says that the show actually ‘pours batter’ into everyone that will rise and take shape long after the show – I love that extended analogy,” Dasha commented. “Audiences at the “Makin’ Cake’” spoken word performance on February 27 will be immersed in a dynamic and sensory experience: storytelling, projected multimedia, measuring cups and whirring hand mixers. And at the end, cake and conversation.”

"Makin’ Cake" is light and intense and unexpectedly intimate. I hope audiences leave with the muscle memory of braving difficult discussions and savoring a sweet reward.
Dasha Kelly Hamilton - Wisconsin Poet Laureate/writer/performance artist

Written by Philomena Dorobek, Brand Storyteller
Fox Cities Performing Arts Center