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Decolonizing Love: Tanaya Winder’s ‘Words Like Love’

Tanaya Winder of Dream Warriors poetry: 'Words Like Love'

After receiving a B.A. in English from Stanford University, an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Mexico and many honors and awards for her work and poetry, Tanaya Winder (Southern Ute, Duckwater Shoshone, and Pyramid Lake Paiute Nations) released her debut poetry collection: “Words Like Love” through West End Press on September 30th.

A poet, writer, artist, educator and TedTalk speaker, Winder is also the co-editor of “Soul Talk, Song Language” with Joy Harjo, the co-founding editor of “As/Us: A Space for Women of the World,” a site to ‘to showcase the creative literary expressions and scholarly work of both emerging and established women writers from around the world’ and the founder of “Dream Warriors,” a management company and a collective of such artists as Mic Jordan, Tall Paul, and Frank Waln who founded the scholarship. She is also the Director of UC-Boulder’s Upward Bound Program, which assists over 100 Native American youth pursue their education.

In an interview with ICTMN, Winder spoke about her debut release and the intricacies of various expressions of love and the importance of self-love, intimate love, social love, community love and universal love.

Why the title "Words Like Love"?

Love is something we learn in many different facets of life, whether that be familial love through our parents or loved ones who nurture and take care of us. There is cultural love, where we learn the importance and significance of honoring our people and our ancestors, whose love kept our culture persisting. There’s the social love we learn existing in this world by interacting with others. Then environmental love, which we need to learn by living on this land, our Mother Earth and how we take care of her.

Then there is intimate love, where we learn to love another person in a romantic bond, and finally self-love, which somehow gets put on the backburner and yet it is one of the most important decolonial forms of love - taking care of ourselves so that we can survive and help others.

With all of these different forms of love, we can get lost in what love is or what it smells like, tastes like, looks like and feels like. We can confuse other actions or words with love and that is how Words Like Love came about.


What has been the reception?

I feel very blessed to have so many people supporting it early on.Sometimes I still feel like I don't deserve it.

All I can hope for is that these words are able to help others on their journey into love. As for taking it all in... honestly it still feels unreal to me. I wake up in the morning and I pray to the Creator and give thanks for my life and all those who are supporting. Sometimes I think "is this real life?" because it can feel too good to be true. Holding my book in my hands knowing it has taken years to create makes me feel like anything is possible.

What would you like for people to get out of this book?

I hope people feel full from this book as if the words are a plate of nourishment that feeds whatever hole is within.

I guess the best way to say it is I hope people get fire out of this book to reignite any flames they need to burn their light as brightly as they can in this world. That may be a lot to ask of a book but it's what I ask for myself... it's what I think we should all ask of each other - to lift each other up when we need it.

I hope the book helps people not just say, but believe in love.

Tanaya Winder’s book “Words Like Love!” is available at West End Press, Amazon and Bookworks. 

Check out her website at