Updated February 16
Our favorite spoken word artists list continues; up next is the legendary Goddess Warrior The Poet. Dianna Tyler, aka Goddess Warrior The Poet, is a published author and spoken word artist from the West side of Chicago. She is known for her powerful voice and dynamic performances using the art form of spoken word to advocate for domestic violence, sexual abuse, and gun violence. Through spoken word, she reaches the hearts and minds of many young people and adults by telling her poetic story of the tragic loss of both parents. Her dad killed her mother, and then he committed suicide. Her work, art, and character exemplify her faith, strength, and fearlessness.
In 2012, her cousin encouraged her to attend and share her story at an open mic. Goddess Warrior has been performing ever since. To date, she has performed in several cities across the nation, earning accolades and awards, including the 2021 Chicago Music Awards Best Spoken Word Artist of the Year, 2021 National Spoken Word Awards Best Female Poet, 2022 Recipient of the Top 20 Chicagoland Women Of Excellence Award Presented to her in March of 2022 By Congressman Danny K. Davis.
In September 2018, she released her first spoken-word album, More Than a Woman. She recorded the album during her pregnancy and after giving birth to her twin boys.
Recently, PrideIndex had the pleasure of interviewing the mother and phenomenal wordsmith who inspires the masses and lives up to every syllable of her name. She shared how she prepares to compete in slam, her upcoming guest appearance in Jessica Holter’s Intimate Conversations Between Adults on February 16, and more.
PrideIndex (PI): When did you first start slamming?
Goddess Warrior (GW): I started slamming in 2013. Today, I’m doing poetry and participating in slams nationwide. I’m grateful for the experience, and it wasn’t something I had chosen to do. I was doing spoken word and open mics, and people said, Man, you should slam. It convinced me to go ahead and do it. I came in second in the first slam I ever competed in in Chicago. And it took off from there.
PI: This is a proprietary question, but I have to ask. How do you prepare to compete in a poetry slam?
GW: In most cases, I listen to music that gets me high. I pray before trying to center myself while remembering that slams are competition, but I’m only competing against myself. Slams can mentally affect you. Some contestants need better sportsmanship, so to speak. It can get in your head because you’re comparing yourself to other slammers. To say, Oh, I’m better than him, or they are better than me, or how can I get on their level of things. When preparing for a slam, I’m mentally preparing myself to not compare myself to the other artists because that can put you in a tough spot in the competition. After all, you want to score high. You want to do your best; you want to stand out. And, of course, everybody’s bringing it in a competition, especially when there’s money on the line. It could be a $200 prize slam or $2,000; everyone is bringing their best because they want to win. So, when it comes to slam competitions, I try not to compare. I’ve realized that my only competition is me.
PI: Oh, I love that. I spoke with another poet, along with you, who competed in Black Alphabet’s Poetry Slam last summer. She’d mentioned a slam where she competed as a beginner against Rudy Francisco and other well-known poets. She said she just went out there, competed, and put her best foot forward.
GW: Yes. And that is a good message to have.
PI: You’re working with Jessica Holter of The Punany Poets, guest starring at Intimate Conversations Between Adults on February 16. I LOVE Jessica because she’s one of the hardest-working poets around. How did that come to be?
GW: She’s legendary, I’ve been following her for a few years. I’m a good friend of Jessica and Don Trella. I’ve worked with Don Trella recently at an event called Reigned Supreme. Don Trella was one of the keynote speakers for the event. Jessica became interested in working with me after seeing me perform and hearing my testimony. Jessica and I were finally able to come together and make our schedules.
She contacted me and asked if I was available on this day. I checked my schedule and was like, it is happening. I’m grateful and thankful to have connected with Miss Jessica to work with the Punany Poets. They’ve been around for over two decades doing anything and representing the community, so I’m honored to share the stage with them. Of course, they’re going to be looking for some hot erotic poetry from me. I’ve got some ready. I’m only sometimes comfortable doing the writing on stage.
PI: Wait a minute, you’ve just touched on something. Are you comfortable sometimes? You’re comfortable with yourself from what I’ve experienced with your poetry.
GW: I’m comfortable with me, no doubt. It just depends on the audience; you get to know your audience. You got to know your crowd. Jessica Holter’s audience, I heard, tends to call for one to really bring it. They are expecting to listen to some hot erotica. So I’ve got some in my bag, man. I’m prepared. I really hope everyone will come out to see us.
PI: What can I expect of you from this show?
GW: I am expected to bring it, like I usually do, high energy, impactful, powerful; I’m just going to be transparent and share some things that I typically don’t share. That’s what’s up. They will probably receive it. I’m sure everybody in the audience can relate to what I bring. I’m going to talk about some LGBT sex, and I’m going to talk about some experiences with straight women and by women, and I’m just going to be transparent, man, and share some real-life experiences.
PI: You could easily blend in with a straight audience, just like an LGBTQ audience. How do you connect with the different audiences?
GW: And I do easily blend in with all audiences. When it comes to connecting with different crowds or being in a room of heterosexuals, I’m always myself. I give my mom the honor, glory, and all credit for her unconditional love. My mom helped me be confident in myself in any room or space, so it doesn’t matter who’s in there; I will be myself going boldly forward. Either you’re going to respect it, or you’re not, and in most cases, people respect it because I am so bold, brave, and unafraid or unashamed. So, when I come into these spaces, people show me love, and I’m grateful.
PI: Where did you go to school?
GW: I went to Malcolm X College. I graduated from West Towne Academy and the Computer Systems Institute in downtown Chicago. I earned some certifications and a couple of degrees under my belt.
PI: Who are some of your influences? Who are some of the people who have shaped your style?
GW: Honestly, I can’t give a lot of credit to any artists. I must say my community, neighborhood, family, and mom. What do I mean? My managers, shout out to Coach Tony, Anthony Townsend, and Matt, the CEO of Make It Look Easy Entertainment. They helped shape and mold me into the artist I am today.
My confidence as an artist, a person, and a mother is based on my upbringing and everything my mom instilled in me. I carry that with me on each stage, and in rooms everywhere I go. It’s the confidence and that self-love. I’ve always told myself, hey, if my mom loved me as I am, then I have to love me as I am. As for anyone else who doesn’t accept it, that’s because they need clarification about who they are. This is no different than people looking at me saying, “Oh, is that a boy or girl?” I stopped correcting people because they were confused about me. I’m clear about me. I know who I am, so I gave myself the name Goddess. I’m a member of the community, a lesbian, a stud. The most important thing is knowing yourself; we will create an image and likeness of God. We’re creating the image and likeness of the Most High, and if you identify as a child of God, you identify with the Most High, and you connect and are in alignment with that yourself.
PI: What advice would you give to a young up-and-coming poet who wants to compete in slam but is scared to get on that stage?
GW: There are a lot of online open mics where you don’t have to be physically present, but you can still practice and hone your skill a little bit, hone your craft. It’s about practicing and being unafraid of sharing your story. Everybody has a story to tell. The first step is breaking the fear and the shame. No longer being ashamed about it, no longer being ashamed to be bold about it. It’s like winning poetry when it comes to artistry when it comes to writing. I always tell my young people that there is no right or wrong. Nobody can tell you that what you experienced or what you went through is right or wrong. This is your personal situation or personal experiences. It is all about being bold and brave enough to express it however you choose. And again, to avoid comparing yourself when you go to these open mics or slam competitions.
I would tell you to believe in yourself. Own your craft practice. Do your local open mics, even if it’s karaoke night, do karaoke. Do poetry and see how people respond; it’s all about practicing before you get on a larger platform.
I started out at open mics back in 2012. All right, we talked about over 10 years ago while I stood reading from paper shaking. I was still determining where it was going to lead. And here I am, over 10 years later, award-winning published author and everything else that I’ve been able to accomplish, and it was just all from being unafraid to take a chance.
PI: Can I add something? I was one of the judges at the Black Alphabet Film Fest Poetry Slam, where you competed last summer. And I’ll tell you why you came in the first place. You were among the two or three people who adapted your next piece according to what you came before the performance. You were on fire in the first round. And then, in the second round, you stepped up your game. Some others came out strong, too. There were a few others who seemed to plateau. It made it hard for us to judge.
GW. I appreciate that. That’s the key to recognizing your audience, judges, and what the room is responding to. I’ve learned these things over time as I grew in my poetry profession. At the Black Alphabet Film Fest Poetry Slam, a young man was getting very emotional. People tend to do that; they do vulnerable pieces to win over the sympathy and emotional responses from judges. I’ve been in slams where that has happened on several occasions. I know that trauma will win over the emotional side of a judge, but it will also make them pull back because they feel like, oh, you’re using this to gain points and favoritism.
In most cases, there are better ways to go. So yeah, I did pay attention to that. Everybody knows what they were doing and how they were trying to win over the judges. I just decided to let them run with me and bring what I knew I had in my bag because I had a repertoire. I’ve been doing this a long time, man. I have a repertoire of poetry.
GW: I’m doing this film with Black Alphabet, and I want to take my journey in spoken word and the arts to inspire the next person to give them some encouragement, inspiration, and hope. I hope they will choose to let go of those suicidal thoughts and not give up and keep going. Life itself can be challenging; it can be difficult to wake up and smile. I do my best to be transparent about my story. So that’s what we’re looking to do with this film: to encourage people and remind them that just because you experienced this pain does not mean you cannot reach your purpose.
PI: I love it. Could you repeat that?
GW: Yes, because just because you have experienced this pain does not mean you cannot reach your purpose.
PI: I’d like to briefly discuss another event flyer I saw for something taking place in April or May this year.
GW: The flyer you’re talking about is for The She Who Inspires Me Award Show. I’m excited about the award show happening in April, National Poetry Month. My birthday is April 2, and the award show is April 5. I am set to perform live, which will be televised on Roku television. It is called the ETF Entertainment channel. I’m excited for all the women nominated. They’re from Detroit, St. Louis, Chicago, and Atlanta. Women from many different cities, and I’m honored to be one of the selected nominees this year.
PI: What does the future hold for you? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
GW: Oh man, in 10 years, I see myself as a Grammy Award-winning artist. I am the highest-paid international spoken word artist. I see myself writing a book that would become a film. I hope to have all of that happening.
I want to work and connect with some great people like Issa Ra and others. I dream of being a judge on the RuPaul Drag Race Show. I love to drag, and I’m such a huge fan. I’ve been thinking about writing a piece about all the seasons of the RuPaul show and doing a reel on it. I want to try to get somebody’s attention over there. Somebody’s got to shout me out. Yeah, but in 10 years, those are some significant things that I’m hoping I’ll release my second book by the end of this year.
I’m also working on my third album. We have spoken word artists winning Grammys now. Shout-out to my boy J-Ivy. He won the Grammy. He was also one of the catalysts who helped us get the spoken word category opened up for the Grammys. Now, a lot of opportunities have come in for a lot of black poets. Malcolm Jamal Warner, Queen Sheba, Francis Powell, Shaw Williams, and many people out there who are representing. Congratulations to everybody who submitted the Grammys. These people are paving the way. They opened up doors for artists like myself to achieve those opportunities. I will continue to do the work, trust God, and trust in his process that these doors will continue to open as I trust them.
PI: How do we contact you, as somebody read the story? Saw some of your work and said I wanted to reach out to Goddess Warrior and have her do some things with us.
GW: The best way to contact me via social media is to DM Goddess Worry A Poet on all social media platforms: Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Snapchat. Goddess Warrior: A Poet is everywhere. You can email me at GWthepoet@gmail.com. You can type my name in a Google search, and everything I have will appear online. My books, CDs, videos I’ve done over the years, many of my bios and accolades, links to the TV shows I have been on, and a couple of movies I have been in. I’m grateful for every opportunity.
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10 Poets you should get to know – Part 3: Sunshine of my life, A conversation with Sunshine Lombre
10 Poets you should get to know – Part 4: Introducing the Millennial Poet named B.
10 Poets you should get to know – Part 5: Fantastic Voyage: One-on-one with Motown Poet Urban Legin’d Obasaki
10 Poets you should get to know – Part 6: Just call her Dark N-Lovely, An interview of Chicago Poet Tarnynon Onumonu
10 Poets you should get to know – Part 7: Talking LOVE with activist & poet Michelle Antoinette Nelson
Coming Soon: 10 Poets you should get to know – Part 9: Ebony Stewart
Coming Soon: 10 Poets you should get to know – Part 10: Vision