Dianah is her name and Dylema is her mantra…
Twenty-four-year-old Dylema is a young poet that first appeared on our radar a couple months ago, around the time that she released her powerful spoken word poem What If A Black Girl Knew?.
The poem has been supported and appreciated by many and contains reflective commentary on the current depictions of black women. Dylema discusses quite a few topics in the poem including self-love and cultural appropriation.
A few days ago on New Years Eve she released the highly anticipated video for What If A Black Girl Knew? and it’s just as bold and thought-provoking as the poem itself – we’re definitely looking forward to her future releases.
Check out our chat with the talented poet below to find out more about her.
CUK: When did you first start writing/performing poetry?
Dylema: I started performing poetry at the age of 17 but I was really young when I started writing it; I started writing at the same time I started reading but I didn’t really know I was writing poetry. What started me off was because I grew up in a house full of boys. I came from Nigeria and had a seriously strong accent when I first came here, so because of that I was very introverted when I was 15 or so and I started writing my poetry in books as my getaway.
What inspires your poetry?
I’m more inspired by people rather than poets specifically but one poet I am very inspired by is Maya Angelou. I’m also inspired by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry… I’m inspired by people’s stories rather than what they do.
You grew up in Nigeria until you were 10 years old. How does that feed into your creative process?
I feel like it’s a big part of my creative process because the life that I lead in Nigeria was so vivid and a lot of things happened that I wasn’t able to forget it even though I was really young. Growing up in Nigeria, to me, really added to the experience of the storytelling of my spoken word that I do now. Also, immigrants and those who migrate from one country to another tend to find it hard to find a place to call home when they get to my age, because it’s like you grow up in Africa and you come to the Western world and it’s like you’re not really part of the Western world and you’re not really a part of Africa because when you go there you’ve got a different accent. You’re not really ‘in there’.
For me, going into spoken word was really creating a home for myself, so I think it makes a massive difference where I grew up. Obviously, I’m in touch with my routes and I speak my language but as far as being here, I feel like connecting the two is what my journey really is.
What’s been the highlight of your journey so far?
I don’t have one to pick. I’m just so grateful to be able to stand on a stage and people want to hear me speak. Every day I perform is a highlight for me.
What are your thoughts on the poetry/spoken word scenes in the UK?
I feel like it’s similar to the beginning stages of Hip Hop in the US because there’s so many of us that no one knows about. The media doesn’t pick us up and it’s been so hard trying to get media attention because they don’t really know what to do with spoken word. I’m hoping to break boundaries with this and with the stuff coming as well, so they can pay attention to us a little bit more.