Spoken word artist makes herself at home in the Middle East

Spoken word artist makes herself at home in the Middle East

“I’ve been a vagabond for far too long now. I can’t keep navigating the rough terrains in the land of men. I would like to set my bags down now. I want to go home,” reads a passage from a prose written by Danabelle Gutierrez, a Dubai-based Filipino writer who has found her home in the UAE’s cultural oasis. Gutierrez settled in Dubai more than a decade ago after moving between five different cities – Manila, Vienna, Oman, Cairo and Doha – a transient life, which according to her, has informed her art.

“I’ve been moving from country to country since I was 7 years old, I bring every city that I’ve lived in, and at some point, called home, with me, and it’s evident in my work, the imagery is all over the poetry,” she said. “I have lived here for nearly 15 years, and it’s the longest that I’ve stayed anywhere,” she added. Although Gutierrez admitted that she’s only in the country “for as long my job allows me to be here,” she emphasized how the UAE has been instrumental for her as an artist.

She has published two poetry books while living in Dubai and is soon releasing a third book, which she said would deal “a lot with the idea of home and this somehow nomadic existence.” In 2014, Gutierrez started going to spoken word gigs, sitting in the audience. But after attending three open mic events, she finally stood up and performed her poems, which usually tackle raw human emotions, drawn from her own experiences.

Four years later, Gutierrez’s audience got bigger, as she was handpicked to perform at Louvre Abu Dhabi in early November, a gig she described as the best thing that happened to her career. “It’s still not my favourite thing to do. I only do it because I want to be fair to the work that I’ve written, and poetry is meant to be read,” she said. Gutierrez wishes to write and publish more books in the future, while also regularly attending spoken word events.




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