The Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission has selected Milwaukee’s Dasha Kelly Hamilton as Wisconsin’s new poet laureate on Monday. She is the first Black woman to be named in the role’s history.

Kelly Hamilton is a writer, performance artist and creative change agent who founded the non-profit, Still Waters Collective, that has created platforms for thousands to learn, be honored and heard. She is also the author of three poetry collections, four spoken word albums, and two novels.

“Dasha Kelly Hamilton’s infectious energy and demonstrated history of transforming lives through the written and spoken word make her the perfect ambassador for poetry in the state of Wisconsin,” says Nick Demske, Chair of the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission, in a statement. “Her reputation precedes her, and we know that Wisconsin residents will benefit in many ways from this outstanding poet.”

Kelly Hamilton fills the position vacated by Margaret Rozga, Wisconsin’s eighth Poet Laureate.

“My practice as a writer and cultural organizer connects me to a spectrum of conversations and communities. For 20 years, I’ve invited folks to lean in to the experience of creating and sharing poems as entry points for reflection, for discovery, for celebrating truth,” Kelly Hamilton said. “I’ve seen communities built and individuals fortified through poems and spoken word. I’m honored to continue building community across the state as Wisconsin Poet Laureate, and look forward to establishing a poetry exchange between traditional residents and writer residents in Wisconsin prisons.”