Past and Present Poet Laureates

The Milwaukee Poet Laureate seeks to foster a greater appreciation and understanding within the community of the reading and writing of poetry. The Milwaukee Poet Laureate is a program of the Milwaukee Public Library, funded by the Friends of the Library, and administered by Woodland Pattern.

2019-2021

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.  

2017 - 2019

Roberto Harrison

Roberto Harrison has been named the 2017-2019 Milwaukee Poet Laureate. His books include Os (subpress, 2006), Counter Daemons (Litmus Press, 2006), bicycle (Noemi Press, 2015), culebra (Green Lantern Press, 2016), Bridge of the World (Litmus Press, forthcoming 2017), and Yaviza (Atelos, forthcoming 2017), as well as many chapbooks.

His work has been published widely in journals and anthologies such as Chicago Review, Mandorla, Palabra, Puerto del Sol, Cream City Review, Callaloo, and Best American Experimental Writing 2015. With Andrew Levy, Roberto edited the poetry journal Crayon from 1997 to 2008, and he is also the editor of Bronze Skull Presswhich has published over 20 chapbooks, including the work of many Midwestern poets. Most recently Roberto served as a co-editor for the Resist Much/Obey Littleanthology. For several years, he hosted Milwaukee’s Enemy Rumor poetry reading series. Roberto is also a visual artist. 

2015-2017

Matt Cook 2015-2017

Resident of Milwaukee 1836 – 1875 Increase Lapham wrote and published on a wide variety of scientific and popular topics throughout the mid-19th century. His subjects reflect his broad range of interests in the world around him. Lapham is credited for being the author of the first book written and published in Milwaukee, A Geographical and Topographical Description of Wisconsin; with brief sketches of its history, geology, mineralogy, natural history, population, soil, productions, government, antiquities, &c, &c published by P. C. Hale in 1844. Lapham’s most enduring work is his The Antiquities of Wisconsin, as surveyed and described which was published in 1855 as a part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Contributions to Knowledge series. In addition to his own writing, Lapham was instrumental in the development of libraries in Milwaukee. He served as a member of the city’s school board, personally contacting publishers and ordering books for school libraries.

2012

Increase A. Lapham2

Resident of Milwaukee 1836 – 1875 Increase Lapham wrote and published on a wide variety of scientific and popular topics throughout the mid-19th century. His subjects reflect his broad range of interests in the world around him. Lapham is credited for being the author of the first book written and published in Milwaukee, A Geographical and Topographical Description of Wisconsin; with brief sketches of its history, geology, mineralogy, natural history, population, soil, productions, government, antiquities, &c, &c published by P. C. Hale in 1844. Lapham’s most enduring work is his The Antiquities of Wisconsin, as surveyed and described which was published in 1855 as a part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Contributions to Knowledge series. In addition to his own writing, Lapham was instrumental in the development of libraries in Milwaukee. He served as a member of the city’s school board, personally contacting publishers and ordering books for school libraries.

2006

Increase A. Lapham4

Resident of Milwaukee 1836 – 1875 Increase Lapham wrote and published on a wide variety of scientific and popular topics throughout the mid-19th century. His subjects reflect his broad range of interests in the world around him. Lapham is credited for being the author of the first book written and published in Milwaukee, A Geographical and Topographical Description of Wisconsin; with brief sketches of its history, geology, mineralogy, natural history, population, soil, productions, government, antiquities, &c, &c published by P. C. Hale in 1844. Lapham’s most enduring work is his The Antiquities of Wisconsin, as surveyed and described which was published in 1855 as a part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Contributions to Knowledge series. In addition to his own writing, Lapham was instrumental in the development of libraries in Milwaukee. He served as a member of the city’s school board, personally contacting publishers and ordering books for school libraries.