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Spoken word artist uses poetry to help highlight arts in Rockford

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Yvonne Boose
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The Gods & Goddesses first annual poetry slam.

A national award-winning Chicago poet has made her home in Rockford. Although she performs spoken word across the country, she still makes time to saturate her community with this art form.

Goddess Warrior The Poet hosted her first Poetry Slam in Rockford last year. At that time, she said she wanted to highlight the city. So she brought in poets from across the country.

“So many people were coming to me telling me how much it was needed and necessary,” she explained, “and how refreshing it was and how much they wanted to see more of it. And so, I decided to stay consistent.”

Since then, she’s done other things in Rockford. Most recently was the Youth Explosion Talent Showcase.

Goddess Warrior The Poet said writing was something she did as a child. She started writing essays in third grade but in middle school she grappled with something personal.

“I was writing to really get out what I was going through at that time. I was in the middle of my own identity — struggling —learning who I was, dealing with a lot of peer pressure from school, my neighborhood at the time,” she said. “And you know, being a middle child of six kids in the household, not really feeling like I had anybody to talk to.”

She said writing poetry became her form of therapy.

As she matured, she developed the courage to transfer her words from the paper to the microphone. Her first spoken word performance allowed her to speak freely about the same thing that prompted her writing in middle school.

“I realized that, in order for me to be the best artist, or the best poet, I had to be my truest self,” she affirmed. “And it wasn't until I was able to embrace who I really was on stage so that I could truly be myself off stage too.”

She said she did this nervously with her paper in her hand. About a year after transitioning into doing spoken word, she was persuaded to take things a step further -- and her confidence exploded.

“I got into my first poetry slam because people were telling me 'Oh, you got it. You got it. You should do slam; you should slam, you should slam. And now I have awards for winning slams," she said.

Slam poetry is a competition where a group of judges score each performance. There are usually a few of rounds before the final winner is announced.

Preparing for this experience helped her perform without reading. She started recording her verses and said this technique helped her memorize her pieces. Her first slam poem was called "CHIRAQ: The Poem."

Goddess Warrior The Poet took her poetry on the road. She built relationships with other creatives and landed with a group of speakers called the Art of Transparency.

“And so I was the entertainment for their tour,” she said. “And what I did, as an artist, every city we went to I would look up whatever open mics or poetry or whatever was happening in that city, and I would collaborate.”

Goddess Warrior The Poet said there is one aspect of being a spoken word artist that she isn’t that fond of and that’s negotiating pay. But she said her resume allows her to keep thriving.

“When you talk about doing this for your purpose, and walking in your purpose, that's solely what it's all about,” she explained. “But when you're doing it for the right things those accolades and achievements, they just fall in place. It just comes out of nowhere, the same way the pay does.”

Goddess Warrior The Poet is a mother with four children. So, she understands the work mothers must do. In May of 2021, she released a poetic short film called “The Toughest Job.” She wrote it for her mom, who she said was her biggest supporter when she was a child.

“And you know, that still stays with me to this day and my mother is deceased,” she shared. “But I remember how much she enjoyed me doing what I loved and how much she pushed me. So, I use that today. You know, it's still my fuel.”

Goddess Warrior The Poet continues to spread her gift by doing youth workshops and other events in the community. She’s collaborating with singer Tina Renee for an R & B show called Ladies of Soul that takes place on May 6, right before Mother’s Day. She is also working on a Juneteenth event in Rockford.

The 2nd annual The Gods & Goddesses Poetry Slam is scheduled to take place October 8th. Registration opens in July. More information about this and other events involving Goddess Warrior The Poet can be found on her Facebook page.

Goddess Warrior The Poet said there's power in writing. And she encourages everyone, especially young people, to write their thoughts down because she says you never know when it could turn into a million-dollar idea.

  • Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.
Yvonne covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This could include how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities. Boose is a recent graduate of the Illinois Media School and returns to journalism after a career in the corporate world.