Spoken word artist makes herself at home in the Middle East

Danabelle Gutierrez at Louvre Abu Dhabi, where she appeared last month. (Supplied)
Updated 03 December 2018
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Spoken word artist makes herself at home in the Middle East

  • Danabelle Gutierrez 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

DUBAI: “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 favorite 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.

Gutierrez will be appearing as part of the fourth annual Hekayah at the East Plaza in New York University Abu Dhabi on Dec. 5, along with nine other award-winning spoken word artists. 


What We Are Reading Today: The River Ki by Sawako Ariyoshi

Updated 25 May 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: The River Ki by Sawako Ariyoshi

The River Ki, short and swift and broad like most Japanese rivers, flows into the sea not far south of Osaka. On its journey seaward, it passes through countryside that has long been at the heart of the Japanese tradition. 

The River Ki dominates the lives of the people who live in its fertile valley and imparts a vital strength to the three women, mother, daughter and granddaughter, around whom this novel is built.

It provides them with the courage to cope, in their different ways, with the unprecedented changes that occurred in Japan between the last years of the last century and the middle of this century.

Sawako Ariyoshi, one of Japan’s most successful modern novelists, describes this social and cultural revolution largely through the eyes of Hana, a woman with the vision and integrity to understand the inevitability of the death of the traditional order in Japan, says a review published on googlereads.com.

Ariyoshi writes with a love for detail bound to a broader understanding of the importance of the geographical and biological forces that mold her characters — and the result is a story that flows with all the vitality of The River Ki itself.