Dasan Ahanu is a public speaker, organizer, workshop facilitator, poet, spoken word performer, songwriter, writer, emcee, and loyal Hip Hop head. Born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, Dasan has used his southern roots to craft his own brand of creative expression. In addition to performing, Dasan has hosted many poetry, jazz, Hip Hop, and cultural arts events across NC. Performing with a number of notable emcees, poets and writers, he has amazed audiences from the underground to academia in cities from St. Louis to Texas. As an actor, Dasan has been a cast member of the hip-hopera, "Right is Right" and a Harlem Renaissance production, "Images", which was produced by National Ensemble Theater and featured at the 2001 National Black Theatre Festival. He is one of the founders of Black Poetry Theatre (BPT) and has been a cast member in five of its six productions. In addition to writing and co-directing the BPT productions, "Herstory of Love" and “Definition of a Hero”, Dasan also recently developed and starred in a one-man theatre production entitled “Confessions of a Lounge Singer”. Since finding a passion for slam poetry, Dasan has competed regionally and nationally since 2005 as a founding member of the Bull City Slam Team out of Durham, NC. In June 2010 the Bull City Slam Team won the Southern Fried Southeastern Regional Poetry Slam, the largest regional poetry slam in the country. The team also finished 3rd in the nation at the 2010 National Poetry Slam. A lyricist with a thirst for being on stage, Dasan is truly an artist with presence.
Since falling in love with the stage and microphone, Dasan has also used his talents and connections within the arts circuit to aid in developing the community and pushing for social change. He has worked as an organizer on such issues as war, social injustice, workers rights, domestic violence and sexual assault; planned and facilitated community programs for Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies; conducted creative writing and performance workshops at middle schools, high schools, and colleges throughout North Carolina; and spent time working with at-risk/court-involved youth. Dasan has been a speaker or workshop facilitator at a number of notable conferences and symposiums on cultural arts, politics, literature, Hip Hop, and the arts as a tool for literacy. A believer in the power of creative expression as an educational tool, he is currently a teacher at Duke University’s Young Writer’s Camp, creative consultant and resident artist at the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham, NC and an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Saint Augustine’s University (formerly Saint Augustine's College) in Raleigh, NC. Dasan has created his own series of shows and collaborated with local promoters to provide some of the best arts and music events in NC.
Featured repeatedly on National Public Radio (NPR), Dasan has been noted for his appearances on “News and Notes with Ed Gordon” and “State of Things with Frank Stacio”. His writing has been featured in online and print publications. He was also the subject of a documentary entitled “Poet Son” that has been showcased in film festivals across the country and highlighted on UNC-TV. Having signed with NC independent record label Amp Truth Records in 2005, Dasan teamed with up and coming music producer Picasso to form The Jim Crow Jackson Experiment. Their self-titled debut album is an amazing blend of spoken word, rap, soul, reggae, and blues. The album showcases both artists’ unique talents and was released both domestically and internationally. Dasan continues to record and release music with notable emcees, vocalists, and musicians while prepping a new album from The Jim Crow Jackson Experiment. Dasan has also released two chapbooks entitled “Hapless Romantic” and “Woman” and two full-length books of poetry entitled “The Innovator” and "Freedom Papers." Following in the footsteps of artists from the Harlem Renaissance to the parks in Brooklyn, Dasan seeks to create art that tells stories that intrigues people’s minds, touches people’s hearts, and captures people’s attention.
Episode #16 of True Poetics. Produced by Truitt Oneal. http://www.truittoneal.com/Duration: 14:04
Dasan Ahanu of team North Carolina Slam competes in the final bout of InkSlam '12 Western Round Up, presented by Greenway Theatre Alliance, Los Angeles, July, 2012. ~ Video by www.Poetry.LADuration: 02:58
The Green Lantern Effect: Courageous Creative Expression Dasan Ahanu is a public speaker, organizer, workshop facilitator, poet, spoken word performer, songwriter, writer, emcee, and loyal Hip Hop head born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. In addition to performing, Dasan has hosted many poetry, jazz, Hip Hop, and cultural arts events across the state. As an actor, Dasan has been a cast member of the hip-hopera, "Right is Right" and a Harlem Renaissance production, "Images", which was produced by National Ensemble Theater and featured at the National Black Theatre Festival. He is one of the founders of Black Poetry Theatre (BPT) and has been a writer, director, producer, and cast member in most of their productions. As an active participant in poetry slam, Dasan has competed regionally and nationally for six years as a founding member and coach of Durham, NC's own Bull City Slam Team (BCST). Dasan is also a recording artist who has collaborated with many of North Carolina's most notable emcees, vocalists, and musicians. Believing that "with great talent comes great responsibility", Dasan has also used his skill and resources to aid in developing the community and further social change. He has worked as an organizer on such issues as war, social injustice, workers rights, domestic violence and sexual assault; planned and facilitated community programs for Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies; conducted creative writing and performance workshops at middle schools, high schools, and colleges throughout North Carolina; and spent time working with at-risk/court-involved youth. Ahanu has been a speaker or workshop facilitator at a number of notable conferences and symposiums speaking on topics such as the impact of cultural arts programming, the arts and social justice, Hip Hop culture, and the arts as a tool for literacy. A believer in the power of creative expression as an educational tool, he is currently a teacher at Duke University's Young Writer's Camp, creative consultant and resident artist at the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham, NC and an Assistant Professor at Saint Augustine's College in Raleigh, NC. About TEDx: In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)Duration: 10:23
When you meet Dasan Ahanu, you won't forget him. Not only will you not forget him, but as educator Daniella Cook put it, "Once you hear him, you want to get to know him. It's a sense of urgency." Ahanu towers over most people at an impressive 6 feet 7 inches. You will most likely have heard him command the stage at any number of spoken word events throughout the Triangle, the state or the United States. It could be argued that Ahanu is the Triangle's most ubiquitous spoken word artist--everywhere and always present.The Indenpendent Weekly
If you haven’t heard by now that N.C. Central University is hosting its second hip-hop summit, consider yourself extremely uninformed.
The summit will be held February 9-10 and will be preceded by a week of events, beginning with a poetry slam on February 5.
Co-sponsored by the Hayti Heritage Center, the poetry slam will showcase local spoken word artists and poets.
“I feel good about the poetry slam,” said host Dasan Ahanu.
“I’m very excited about bringing this type of element to poetry at Central.”
"Connected to words like Siamese twins": That line from Dasan Ahanu's poem "Deep in Thought" epitomizes the rise of the Triangle's spoken-word community. Metaphors and similes dangle with cadence and intonation. The words—bled from poets who carry pens, pads and bags filled with homemade books and CDs in store-bought cases—entertain and inspire. These poets live in these words, and, symbiotically, those words live off of their poets.The Indenpendent Weekly
SECCA partnered with the Winston-Salem Gateway YWCA to launch the Inside Out Classroom in February 2009. During this inaugural month-long class, over 24 students from the YWCA created spoken word poems inspired by artist Charlie Brouwer’s installation Rise Up Winston-Salem. These poems drew upon the students’ personal stories of hope and aspiration, and were recited by the students during a Community Day event held at Old Salem. Renowned spoken word poet and hip-hop artist Dasan Ahanu led the class, and the recital was recorded and made available as a podcast on SECCA’s Web site and on YouTube.Southeastern Center for Contemporary Arts
It's been two years since poet and hip-hop artist Dasan Ahanu released his debut recording, "The Jim Crow Jackson Experiment." Since then, the Raleigh native has become a beacon of the spoken word scene in North Carolina, working to inspire a new generation of musicians and performers. He joins guest host Laura Leslie to discuss his craft and perform some of his work live in the studio.WUNC Radio
Dasan Ahanu, who teaches poetry at St. Augustine's College in Raleigh and leads the Bull City Slam Team, called Scott-Heron a main influence. He "was one of my inspirations in wanting to write poetry and write music and to do it in a way that entertains" but also deals with social issues in a way that brings people together, Ahanu said.The Herald Sun
The project features Amp Truth Records spoken word artist, Dasan Ahanu, and music producer, Picasso. “The Jim Crow Jackson Experiment is somewhat of a preview to our upcoming solo projects,” says Dasan Ahanu. “It allows me to be edgier and reach a different audience and affords Picasso the opportunity to take more chances with his music. You may be saying to yourself, I heard of these guys before. Maybe it’s because, Dasan is one of the most prolific spoken word artists to emerge out of North Carolina in recent years, or maybe it’s from his numerous appearances on Ed Gordon’s “Poetry Corner” segment on NPR.Grindin
The Hayti Heritage Center hosts its own poetry slam each month, called the Jambalaya Soul Slam, which provides a venue for spoken word artists to perform and compete. In January the center added another initiative – the Jambalaya Soul Slam Academy, where experienced artists lead exercises to help other poets bring their work to life.
Dasan Ahanu performs at a poetry slam in Greensboro. He performs in a variety of venues, has conducted workshops across the state and has presented guest lectures on the topics of writing and literacy. (Photo courtesy of Dasan Ahanu)
“The hope is to kind of build confidence and help people to feel comfortable sharing their work on stage,” said Dasan Ahanu, who organized both the slams and the workshops.
For Chris Massenburg, the Bull City Slam Team has been a labor of love that's bearing fruit beyond Durham.
Now as the 36-year-old leads his team through this week's National Poetry Slam in St. Paul, Minn., he does so with some bona fides. The spoken-word artists took first place in the Southern Fried Poetry Slam, a regional contest, in June. It was the team's first since forming in 2005. The win brought praise from county leaders during a Durham commissioners meeting.
But Massenburg says he's most proud of how the team's success is feeding a new group of young poets in the Triangle.
The five-member team beat out 23 other teams including those from Tampa, Fla., New Orleans, La., and Knoxville. This year’s team members are: Slam Coach, Chris “Dasan Ahanu” Massenburg, George “G” Yamazawa, Elliott “Axiom” Miley, Kane Smego and Will McInerey.
The team won $3,000 in cash prizes along with MoonPies and RC Cola.
Massenburg, a creative writing instructor at St. Augustine’s College, had a good feeling about this year’s team. “We knew we had a good chance. We only had one newcomer to the team. We’ve been around each other all year. We’ve been performing and writing around each other.”
Chris "Dasan Ahanu" Massenburg, founder and coach of the Bull City team, said the Durham team was feeling upbeat about its prospects. "We feel really confident," he said in a phone interview Friday. "We still have some very good pieces left." The team has been preparing for a victory and has "worked hard enough to have well-written poems for this."The Herald Sun
The Bull City Slam Team made it to the finals of the National Poetry Slam in St. Paul, Minn. on Saturday, competing against three other teams for top honors.
Durham finished third behind Soapboxing (St. Paul) and Nuyorican (New York City).
"It was an amazing experience for the whole team," said team captain Chris "Dasan Ahanu" Massenburg.
That's the beginning of a poem written by Dasan Ahanu, Joseph 'Church da'Poet' Churchwell and Elliot Axiom for Black Poetry Theatre's "Definition of a Hero," being performed tonight and Saturday at Common Ground Theatre in Durham.It is a slightly revised version of a play they first presented in 2008 for Father's Day, with the theme of fathers and sons. But this production expands on the definition of a hero to add other family members.The Herald Sun
This week, on “True Poetics”, we caught up with poet/spoken word and hip-hip artist Dasan Ahanu (Chris Massenburg) from Durham, NC to talk about life as a poet, the Bull City Slam Team, and his love for Hip-Hop music.True Poetics