Dasha Kelly wields her words and wonder as tools for building inspiration and communities. An accomplished writer, artist and social entrepreneur, Dasha travels the country as a keynote speaker, teaching artist, workshop facilitator and performance artist. She founded an arts program called Still Waters Collective, which utilizes creative writing and spoken word to shape confidence and leadership with youth across southeastern Wisconsin. Dasha has performed on HBO's Def Poetry Jam, in Opium Magazine's Literary Death Match, at the National Performers Network Conference and with Grammy-nominated Angie Stone, to name a few. Her writings have appeared in anthologies, textbooks, magazines and online. she has been featured as a freelance writer for Upscale, Black Enterprise and Milwaukee magazines. Dasha's first novel, All Fall Down (Syntax 2003), earned her a position on Written Word Magazine's Top Ten List of Up-and-Coming Writers of the Midwest. A featured story from her collection, Hershey Eats Peanuts (Penmanship Books 2009), was a finalist in the Abbey Hill Literary Awards. She recently released her second collection, Call It Forth, and her second novel, Almost Crimson, will be published by Curbside Splendor in spring 2015.
Dasha holds an MFA in Creative Writing and a masters' degree in Marketing Communications. She traveled to Botswana as an Arts Envoy for the U.S. Embassy. She served as the fourth writer-in-residence for the prestigious Pfister Hotel. Two years in a row, she was included on OnMilwaukee.com's list of "Top 100 Coolest Milwaukeeans," where she lives with her two daughters and a cat named Shkoobi.