Four Lessons We Can Learn From Dasha Kelly


On Wednesday morning, some lucky DASH students were offered the opportunity to attend a workshop and poetry reading by Milwaukee-based poet Dasha Kelly. As students and as artists, we are sponges for the kind of inspiration that Ms. Kelly brings to us. The following is a list of lessons that we can take from Kelly’s words.

1.) You never know what will inspire you. Kelly self identifies first-and-foremost as a lover of fiction. Her relationship with writing began with spinning tales on her mother’s typewriter, though she admitted to having an aversion to poetry in high school. It was only into her adult life, when she first heard the honesty of slam poetry, that she saw its potential as a medium. Suddenly, the poetry form forced her to condense an enormous story into only the most important words and sounds. The message? That as artists, we may believe we know where we are headed, but the possibilities remain perpetually open before us.

2.) You can make a living out of this. One comment of Kelly’s that hit home is that she had been told that one does not make a living off writing. Despite that, today she travels as a keynote speaker, works with musicians to create poetry, publishes novels, and works with the arts outreach program she founded. This is hardly the life of a starving poet. Rather, we should take from Kelly in her ambition to not only create her art, but to find new ways to incorporate it into people’s lives.

3.) It’s not just me. Between sharing her musical, lovely, captivating poems with us, Kelly spoke candidly and asked how many of us were “people watchers”. Upon seeing a room full of hands raised, she said, “I love that moment when you realize that other people do something. You think to yourself, ‘it’s not just me.'” This lesson of the relatability of art and its power to bring people together is one of great importance. Whether your art is about finding connections or breaking them, it is always wise to be aware of its potential to bridge ideas between people.

4.) Be a genre-bender. Dasha Kelly is not merely a poet. She worked with a symphony orchestra to produce a poem in conjunction to a musical score, among other collaborations. In her novels, she mixes short stories with her poetry. Not to mention her influences, which range from an apology for watching too much TV, to the experience of sitting next to someone on a plane, to love. Dasha Kelly reminds us that our art is an extension of our person, and there is no reason to limit that to a narrow band of our lives.

Missed her at DASH? Want to see her again? Dasha Kelly will be performing at the Coral Gables Books&Books on February 28 at 8:00 pm.

2014 Resolution: Time Management

There are two nine-week periods left in this school year, and now is the time to bring back some good ol’ time management tips.

Remember your agenda? It’s true, by this time of year most of the pristine agendas from the beginning of the year are ripped, lost, or purposefully neglected. The fact remains, however, that keeping an agenda is the best way to organize and keep track of the assignments you need to complete. What that doesn’t mean is passively lamenting the loss of your DASH edition. Instead, use whatever works for you. Many students find reminder applications on their phones helpful, or even just the notepad feature. That way, you’ll always have your list handy.

Prioritize! By this time of year, you already know what classes give you the most struggle, and which come naturally. Make a note of that when deciding what to do first, and get the hardest projects out of the way so that the work you enjoy more comes as a reward after the tough stuff is over.

Don’t know it ’till you try it. Ten math problems? Looks like a walk in the park until you figure out that each problem requires three steps and a graph to go with it. The lesson here is that you should always start assignments as soon as you get them. Sure, time and priorities might lead you to finish them later, but you won’t know how long an assignment is really going to take you until you go through the actual motions of completing it. Better to find out you’ll need an hour the night before than realizing it’s too late the reading period on the morning it’s due.

Block your procrastination agents. You meant to do the homework twenty minutes ago, but you got caught on a Facebook feed that led to Instagram that led to…. If your favorite sites are getting the best of you, try finding a site blocker for your browser to keep you from accessing them for a couple of hours. Firefox has LeechBlock, and Chrome has StayFocused, two add-ons that will temporarily or permanently block websites to keep you on track. And while you’re at it, make sure to turn off your tv and phone when you need to concentrate. Any distraction is a reason to push work aside.

Go public for helpful accountability. By now you’ve probably recognized a few bad habits and some useful ideas to conquer obstacles for being more productive. The thing is, you’re way more likely to stick to goals and resolutions when other people around you know about them. Speak up and others will too. When people in your life are watching to see whether you stuck to your goal – there’s more incentive to keep it up. Being the only person holding yourself accountable makes it easier to slip up. So when the work is done and you’re back on your feed reading status updates – consider posting your own personal pat on the back: “Waited till finishing my project to catch up with FB. Feels great to get work done on time.”