Art of Cool Festival

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AOCFEST HOST Spotlight: Dasan Ahanu


Dasan Ahanu will be your Official Host Friday & Saturday nights at Hayti Heritage Center

Christopher Massenburg, better known as Dasan Ahanu, is a public speaker, organizer, workshop facilitator, poet, spoken word performer, educator, 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) where he has been a writer, director, producer, and cast member. As an active participant in poetry slam, Dasan has competed regionally and nationally as a founding member and coach of Durham, NC’s own Bull City Slam Team. Dasan is also a recording artist who as one as one half of the duo The Jim Crow Jackson Experiment released a self titled album domestically and internationally in 2007. Since then he has continued to record while collaborating 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. Dasan has been a speaker or workshop facilitator at a number of notable conferences and symposiums. In addition to advocating for further support of poetry and spoken word programming, he has spoken on topic such as the impact of cultural arts programming, the arts and social justice, Hip Hop culture, Hip Hop pedagogy, and the arts as a tool for literacy. As a resident artist with the St, Joseph’s Historic Foundation/Hayti Heritage Center in Durham, NC he has developed poetry and spoken word programming for youth and adults and worked to grow the Triangle’s arts community. In 2004 he was awarded an Indy Arts Award by Independent Weekly Magazine for his work in arts and activism.

His work has been featured on National Public Radio (NPR) where he 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 has been showcased on NBC 17 in for his work with poetry slam. He is featured on the third season of Lexus Verses and Flow aired on TV One. He was featured in a documentary entitled, “Poet Son” that aired on WUNC-TV as a part of the North Carolina Visions film series. Dasan has released two full-length books of poetry entitled The Innovator and Freedom Papers. He is currently also touring his two latest spoken word CDs The Darkest Eye and Catharsis. 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.

Dasan is currently an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, NC.

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