Women to Watch: Poet, Loyce Gayo
A spoken word artist and teacher from Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania by way of Houston, Texas—Loyce exudes the emotions and understanding that our political, social, and cultural climate needs in this day an age. Read the interview below to learn more about her.
What is your ethnicity?
Sukuma (an ethnic group from the northern lake region of Tanzania), Black
Do you speak other languages?
How did you get into poetry and what style do you usually perform in?
I first started performing poetry at my local open mic. Houston has many thriving platforms for performance poetry and I managed to find a stage to share my story. My writing and performance skills further blossomed while at UT (Austin), when I found the Spitshine Poetry community. I found young people who pushed my craft and allowed space for me to find the vulnerability in my writing. I try to keep my voice true to who I am in all of my pieces.
What inspires you?
Right now, I am obsessed with the idea of mythology. From exploring tribal Sukuma myths about the Great Lake Victoria to the gendered and racialized myths that sell us material things and shape how we view nationhood. I am fascinated with how certain strongly held ideas are created, sustained and ultimately dismantled.
What book are you reading right now?
Heavy by Kiese Laymon
Imperial Leather by Anne McClintock
What do you do when you’re not working?
Play indoor soccer, re-watch Bob’s Burgers, dance in the shower and dream.
What do you hope for your people?
Equity and agency.
What is something about your identity that has shaped who you are as a creator?
I believe different parts of my identity inform each other. At their intersection—my Blackness, my African diasporic disposition, my queerness, my womanhood, my privilege as a middle-class able-bodied person, and even my 4C hair not only informs my work but impacts how I analyze history and my outlook on society.
What kind of impact do you hope to make in the world?
As a teaching artist, I have been able to curate spaces for young people to engage in conversations about activism, ideas about nation-building, and perhaps most importantly—discover the power and impact of their voices and stories. As an organizer, I have designed leadership and artistic development programs that teach young people how to foster youth-led spaces and youth-centered initiatives. I have also been able to organize a youth poetry festival in my hometown of Dar-es-Salaam–an endeavor I am excited to continue building on.
Describe the first time you realized that language/words had power?
The moment that looms large in my mind is my first ever Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Competition. In 2014, I witnessed hundreds of young people from around the world gather to share powerful stories, share ideas on organizing for marginalized communities and fellowship in the name of poetry. BNV sparked my passion for organizing and showed me how youth voices and stories can truly drive (both) action and change!
You can follow her works on her website.