Deshawn McKinney is a writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin working in whatever medium is best to tell the story. His work appears in journals such as Lolwe, Ploughshares, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry. He is the writer in residence for Madison Writers’ Studio’s Fourth Lake Writing Retreat and is a two time Pushcart Prize nominee. His debut chapbook, father forgive me, was published by Black Sunflowers Poetry Press in 2021. His first full length collection is releasing in fall of 2024.

Deshawn has performed for and built with audiences around the world, including as one of the headlining acts at the Boys and Girls Club’s Keystone Conference – one of the largest gatherings of teen leadership in the US – meeting with students in Kingston, Jamaica to share art and speak to collective freedom, and headlining Toast Poetry at the Norwich Arts Centre in Norwich, England with an exhilarating set that blended poetry and rap in novel ways.His art, grounded in hip-hop, often explores the delicate balance of existence, and his politic seeks to build coalition across peoples and movements to create sustainable, proactive, and effective bases of power.

Aside from his own writing, he is passionate about passing the craft down and helping others discover the power of their voice. He has extensive workshop and teaching experience working with new and seasoned writers in the Madison Metropolitan School District, Verona Area School District, as an instructor with the UW-Odyssey Jr. Program, and more.

As a member of the First Wave Hip-Hop arts community at the University of Wisconsin-Madison he earned a BA in Creative Writing, pursuing his passion for service through his creative enterprises. He is a Truman Scholar, the nation’s premier public service fellowship, as well as a recipient of the prestigious Marshall Scholarship for graduate study in the United Kingdom. He holds a Master in Social Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Master in Creative Writing – Poetry from the University of East Anglia.