Young Dara, the loud and proud Bronx resident, was introduced to poetry and story writing around the age of nine. She even shared her first short story to her 4th grade class for story hour. But it was at 16 that she started to really acknowledge and honor her artistic inclinations. She became a founding member of a local youth theater and simultaneously started writing poetry on a monthly basis. She obtained her BA in Literature with a concentration in Drama Studies. At 25, after losing her only sister to breast cancer, Dara began honing her craft as a poet, exploring life post her profound loss and essentially worked out her grief on pages and stages. She later pursued her MA in Educational Theater and also received her MPA in Nonprofit Administration. Though unofficially studying under Natalie Goldberg for over two decades, Dara officially began being guided by her as of 2019. Dara is inspired by the works of Allen Ginsberg, TS Eliot, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Samuel Beckett, Tennessee Williams, Sonia Sanchez, Saul Williams, Staceyann Chin, and V (formerly Eve Ensler).
Dara’s theatrical career has included the roles of actor, sound designer, stage manager, and director in numerous Black and Latinx community theaters in the northeast region including the HADLEY Players, Teatro LATEA, and Aaron Davis Hall. As a poet, Dara has performed on several stages across New York City including Bowery Poetry Café, the Nuyorican Poets Café and Mike Geffner's Inspired Word. Dara made her international debut in 2018 and her Off-Broadway debut in 2021. She was also featured on WBAI’s Perspectives hosted by the late Louis Reyes Rivera.
Although the idea of Black Man, Black Woman, Black Child came to her in 1999 when she wrote the title poem exploring family dynamics and why they may be so complicated, it wasn’t until 2014 that she decided it was time to release her work upon the world. She later went on to pen her #MeToo story in her book Casualty of Love and explored intersectional feminism in her third book Two X Chromosomes with an Extra Shot of Melanin. In 2021, Dara decided to share the backstory and released her Reader's Digest 2021 Honorable Mention Award Winning memoir Still Laughin where she shares hilarious and difficult moments of her life and how she manages to keep it all in perspective. Her books have been purchased across half of the United States and sits on the shelves in the homes of folks across seven different countries. She has written over 2,000 poems and numerous short essays and blogs.
Dara founded and facilitates Black Authors Collaborative, a Facebook group dedicated to helping established authors share resources while providing a place for aspiring authors to learn publishing best practices. During the time of sheltering in place, with her dear friend, Catherine Man, she co-founded The Art of Breathing and Writing where they facilitate sessions of healing and processing utilizing writing and breathwork practices. Dara also serves as the Vice President of Poetix University, a school that works to push the pen of poets of all calibers while sharing with them the best practices of writing, performing and publishing. As part of the Poetix team she also serves as an editor for the anthologies they produce and currently oversees the curriculum of their workshops. And if that was not yet enough, she has stepped up to assist Bobby Gonzalez as he facilitates Spoken Word 101. She also served as part of the Kevin Powell's Writing Workshop editing team for their book 2020 The Year That Changed America, featuring over 100 authors. And Dara continues to assists with this workshop.
If this weren't enough, Dara hosts the podcast "On Behalf Of" where she speaks with people from representing their respective communities. She also cohosts the Word2Wordz Podcast with Tonii2Eyes where they talk poetry and what's inspiring their creativity. She also works with Tonii at iiPublishing where she assists writers get their work out while still holding the rights to their work. Additionally, she freelances as a teaching artist and is available for corporate performances and contract work.
As an artist, Dara believes in addressing the difficult and taboo topics to create discussion, promote healing, and encourage critical thought within her community and across cultures. In addition to attending rallies and marches, being part of a civil rights organization and serving as a mentor to others, Dara sees her poetry as a big part of her activism. She is not afraid to stand on stages of mixed audiences and challenge them with her truth. Her topics range from identity, systemic racism, sexism, sexual assault, reproductive rights, access to healthcare and emotional healing. It was in observing the many causes that Dara champions, that an acquaintance started calling her The Community Poet. Though reluctant to hold such a title, understanding the responsibility inherent in representing a community, the name stuck.
Dara Kalima, The Community Poet, is always up for a good conversation but beware, you may plant the seed for her next verse or the next chapter in her book.
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