A self-described introvert with a very public profession, Dasan Ahanu is a North Carolina-based cultural organizer, artist, and scholar. As an accomplished cultural leader and poet, Dasan has appeared on NPR News, TV One’s Verses and Flow, and the documentary Poet Son, among other features. Through his work, service projects, and appointments, Dasan has shown incredible commitment to his home state, noting the creative artistry embedded in the fabric of North Carolina. 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. A respected recording artist, Dasan has collaborated with many Jazz, Soul, and Hip-Hop artists in North Carolina. He released his most recent album, Words, Rhythms, and Melodies in 2021.
Dasan’s academic work focuses on critical writing, creative writing, hip-hop, and popular culture. He is a visiting professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, teaching courses on Hip-Hop and Black culture. Among the 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. In 2023, he was named the 15th Piedmont Laureate, a one-year program that changes genres annually, for which he serves as a poet. His writing has been published extensively, and he is the author of 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, 2020).