Toluwanimi • Artist

Toluwanimi Obiwole is a Nigerian poet, performer, and workshop facilitator based in Denver, Colorado. She is currently a member of the Slam Nuba poetry team and even performed at Governor Jared Polis’ swearing-in ceremony.

Toluwanimi has lived in Denver since she was in primary school. She and her family came to the U.S. first to Miami, then moved to Denver a few years later.

What does it mean to you to be black in Denver?

Because of Denver’s demographics and the way they are changing, for me being black in Denver is an act of resistant placemaking. Whenever I show up, especially in neighborhoods that are being heavily gentrified, I take up as much space as I need. This act energetically grounds me and reminds those around me of the underlying culture they are participating in. When my friends and I, who are so visibly black, take up space especially in rooms full of privilege and opportunity, which are abundant here, we remind everyone that we are here too and our presence matters. Even subconsciously my presence reminds folks that Denver cannot be whitewashed.

What do you love most about living in Denver?

I love the accessibility to beautiful natural scenes and the fact that Denver is still small enough for people to really connect – given time and resources – and make a lasting communal impact. I love and am grateful for the solid community I participate in and cultivate. The chosen family I have here is truly my wealth.

How have your experiences in Denver shaped you as a creative, entrepreneur, professional, etc.?

There are so many Denver organizations that are willing to invest in and cultivate young artists, so from a very young age I had access to the professional art world. The fact that Denver also believes in its youth has opened the doors for me to sit in rooms and boards that most other people my age have no access to. I feel like even though I’m still developing and building my career I have the full support of the city.