Springtime in Verse with Piedmont Laureate Dasan Ahanu

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Springtime in Verse is a series of blog posts inviting you to learn and gather around poetry with the Ackland. Today’s featured poet is Dasan Ahanu, 2023 Piedmont Laureate.

Dasan has shared two newly-composed poems in waka verse form in celebration of the Museum’s current exhibition, Lotus Moon and Nandina Staff: The Art of Ōtagaki Rengetsu and Nakahara Nantenbō. Follow our blog throughout the month of April to enjoy more original works by celebrated North Carolina poets. We are so pleased to present to you this exhibition and the original poems written by local community poets.

Under Development 

They say green grass ain’t
fit for where God’s children roam
Build concrete jungles
Dare the sun and momma’s tears
to raise roses in its midst 


I would fall in love
in the midst of a spring breeze
beneath two pine trees
on a park bench by the lake
Each time better than the last 

Dasan Ahanu is a North Carolina-based cultural organizer, artist, and scholar. In conjunction with creative arts, his academic work focuses on critical writing, creative writing, hip-hop, and popular culture. The self-described introvert with a very public profession has always enjoyed challenges. More than blending culture and academia, Dasan balances the practical with possibilities. It’s this mindset that has afforded him the opportunity to craft dreams into accolades. In 2023, Dasan become the Piedmont Laureate

A poet spreads his arms wide as he performs on a stage

We invite you to share your own poems inspired by Rengetsu’s and Nantenbō’s artworks on display. In the coming weeks, the Ackland will host several opportunities to gather around poetry writing, recitation, and scholarship.

On Friday, April 14, the Ackland will remain open late until 9:00 p.m. Listen to local poets perform waka poetry, learn to craft your own waka poems, and share your compositions at our open mic. Learn more here:

On Saturday, April 15, the Ackland will host a free, drop-in poetry writing program at Carolina’s Coker Arboretum’s central lawn. Visit any time from 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. to enjoy the serene landscape and the pleasure of crafting poetry to hang amongst the blossoms. Your poems will remain displayed in the gardens through April 24. Find out more here:

Also on Saturday, April 15, the Ackland will host a one-day public symposium considering the two artists of Lotus Moon and Nandina Staff. The symposium will look at the work of artists Ōtagaki Rengetsu and Nakahara Nantenbō from multiple perspectives, including Japanese Buddhism, the materiality and functions of the work, the role of literature, and the aesthetics of calligraphy. Capacity is limited. Register here:

Lotus Moon and Nandina Staff presents and contrasts the work of two major Japanese artists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, taking its title from translations of their names. Ōtagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875) was a Buddhist nun who became very well known as an important poet focusing on the traditional waka verse form, rendering her poems in elegant but strong calligraphy on paper and on ceramics that she often formed herself; Nakahara Nantenbō (1839-1925) was an influential and strict Zen Master famous for his energetically and expressively brushed calligraphy and paintings.