Dasan Ahanu

Artist | Cultural Organizer | Scholar

Write Free + Speak Free + Live Free

Dasan Ahanu is a North Carolina-based cultural organizer, artist, and scholar. In conjunction with creative arts, his academic work focuses on critical writing, creative writing, hip-hop, and popular culture. The self-described introvert with a very public profession has always enjoyed challenges. More than blending culture and academia, Dasan balances the practical with possibilities. It’s this mindset that has afforded him the opportunity to craft dreams into accolades.

His dedication to the craft made him accept the challenge to churn his scattered thoughts and feelings into award-winning literary works.

“The challenge was deepening my craft,” Dasan said. “I had been writing a particular way, and I got challenged to push myself further. And when I did, there was just this really kind of awkward response to the shift that made me reflect on what I had been creating and how I wanted to be perceived.”

Perception can indeed become reality, especially when you muster the courage to stand on stages and share your fine-crafted thoughts as Dasan has done over the years. These performances have led him to life-changing conversations and, eventually, life-altering experiences.

In 2023, he was named the 15th Piedmont Laureate, a one-year program that changes genres annually. Dasan is the second poet to hold the post. The inaugural poet has gone on to serve the state as poet laureate.

“Being able to work across the region and with four great organizations is really important to me,” Dasan said. “I've done a lot of work over the years, but to be able to do it in this role is significant because it'll impact what happens after me. I think there are a lot of poets who will be able to see themselves in a role like this, but also to help these organizations think a little bit more about BIPOC poets in the area and the kinds of things they can do for them going forward.”

Paying it forward is always at the top of Dasan’s mind, especially in North Carolina.

“Home gave me an opportunity,” he said. “I'm involved in arts and culture because I was in a community that gave me the opportunity. So, my responsibility is home first – to give back to the community that gave to me. North Carolina is the reason I'm doing art. So, I always want to ensure that I can do as much as possible here in case other folks like me need this and whose life will be changed by it, but who might not actually consider it for themselves.”

“There's a creative artistry embedded in the fabric of North Carolina.”

So, while his art has taken him to many places, and he can certainly exist anywhere in the world, home will always be the foundation from which his artistry blooms.

Among many great honors throughout his career, Dasan is an alumnus of the Nasir Jones Fellowship with the Hip Hop Archive at Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research. Being chosen for the incredibly selective program was an exciting experience for the hip-hop-loving scholar whose program focus was lyricism.

As an accomplished cultural leader, Dasan has appeared on NPR’s News and Notes with Ed Gordon and State of Things with Frank Stasio. He was featured on the third season of TV One’s Verses and Flow and in a documentary, Poet Son – presented as a part of the North Carolina Visions film series. Through his work, service projects, and appointments, Dasan has shown an incredible commitment to the city of Durham. He is a resident artist with the St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation/Hayti Heritage Center, co-founder and managing director of Black Poetry Theatre, and the Rothwell Mellon Program Director for Creative Futures with Carolina Performing Arts. He previously served as a founding member and coach of the Bull City Slam Team and has performed and competed extensively across the country alongside the team and independently.

With so many accomplishments and goals in the making, it’s no surprise that Dasan still has a wish list to complete.

“I want to build a place that incubates artistic entrepreneurs – not just craft, but the ability to navigate with that craft.”

This idea, which involves the creation of a fully funded contemporary arts program, is just a tiny part of what may someday become Dasan’s community-minded legacy.

“I think my legacy is to chart the unconventional path to be able to craft a life centered around art and culture,” he said. “I hope that whatever's created resonated with the people. If my peers like it, cool, but I'd rather the people like it.”

Dasan is a visiting professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, teaching courses on hip-hop and Black culture. He has authored four poetry collections, The Innovator (HWJW Publishing, 2010), Freedom Papers (HWJW Publishing, 2012), Everything Worth Fighting For: An exploration of being Black in America (Flowered Concrete, 2016), and Shackled Freedom: Black Living in the Modern American South (Willow Books, 2021).

upcoming tour

Fort Mason Center
San Fancisco, CA


Sunday to Wednesday
July 23 to 26, 2017

Resumes & Media Kits

Artist Resume
Teaching Resume
Consulting Resume
Artist EPK
Artist Media Kit
Speaker EPK
Speaker Media Kit

Click to download the resume or media kit you need access to

stay in touch

  • Booking


  • Press


  • info