Dasha Kelly Hamilton is a writer and performance artist focused on human and social wellness. Kelly Hamilton is the author of three poetry collections, four spoken word albums, and two novels. She is also the first Black woman to become Wisconsin’s poet laureate. Kelly Hamilton spoke with Libby Collins in this week’s edition of WTMJ Conversations.
A portion of the conversation was transcribed by eCourt Reporters.
LIBBY COLLINS: Do you remember the first time you sat down and put pen to paper to write a poem?
DASHA KELLY: I do. I was in — interesting, speaking of being a military kid, I think of how old I was based on where I was living, so I’m putting myself in first grade, so we were living in Georgia, and there was a TV show “Mornings with Jane,” and most local broadcasts, you invite your audiences to submit — I figure as a grownup who understands how media works now, but as a kid, “Miss Jane just invited us all to submit our pictures and send in our poems and our stories,” and I had decided that I was — I wanted to send Miss Jane one of — something, so I drew a picture. I drew a picture of a girl and wrote a poem. It didn’t officially go with the picture of the girl, but I remember doing this at the same session and I wanted to get this, and my mother helped me put the — you know, write out the envelope and I got on a roll. So, I sent the picture and the poem to Miss Jane.
And we also got the Highlights magazine and so I — you know, Momma helped me send those to the Highlights magazines because they had stories and other kids’ pictures and poems and things. These things called poems all went into the Highlights magazine as well, and I was able to experience both of those. Saw my picture on the TV screen on the Miss Jane Morning Show and was able to see a little poem that came out in the Highlights magazine within that same year.
LIBBY COLLINS: Do you remember either of those poems?
DASHA KELLY: Oh, I don’t, I wish I did. I wish I did. Honestly, it was the excitement of that exchange. I sent them something and my picture is on, my poem is in. And I just — I remember the picture more so, because I remember my mother helping me with proportions. She was telling people I won in the parent lottery.
My mother is a creator and she taught me how to fly. And my father is a strategist, and he made sure I always had a flight plan.