Reem is a fashion fanatic. She used her talents of critiquing to start a blog called “We Voice Fashion” along with a partner that shares her views on the world of fashion and design. Through her column, she likes to explore fashion in a philosophical way at times.
Latest posts by Reem Al Suwaidi (@LumeiRee) (see all)
- Speaking Out Loud: Afra Atiq (@a_afra) Ignites the Stage with Poetry - October 16, 2017
- Long and Lost in the Abstract Abyss of Helen Teede’s Art - June 21, 2017
- Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - March 23, 2017
Interview with the Emirati Spoken Word Poet Afra Atiq to learn about her process in writing her poetry and performing it.
Afra Atiq has just concluded her performance for Literaturhaus, a program launched by Al-Serkal Avenue at Nadi Al-Quoz that features an array of authors. It is one of the many stages Atiq has been asked to recite her poetry; it’s safe to say that the first Emirati spoken word poet is a national sensation. Atiq leads the movement of spoken word poetry with an air of confidence only an expert could bear. Her talent and ability to entrance the audience with her poems about discrimination, food, feminism, and family is a wonder to witness. We interviewed her to know more about her process and how she performs.
Sail: Why did you choose the spoken word poetry as your medium?
Afra Atiq: I don’t think I chose spoken word poetry, it chose me. I love living in the moment and seeing how the audience responds to a poem. It’s not the same as writing it down. You’re not there all the time. With performing to an audience, there is more resonance to it.
Sail: Can you describe your writing process?
Afra Atiq: The words don’t come to me immediately. I’m a poet with a scientific mind, so I have a mathematical formula that I use picking words, and so far as the structure of the poem goes, I have to decide which words go in and out. Inspiration is everywhere. When you know that spark hits you and you think “Ok, I can turn this into a poem.” Most of the time I’m not very disciplined in the same way that you need to be when you’re writing a novel; it is more spontaneous.
Sail: What are the recurring themes of your poems?
Afra Atiq: Food! Well, I talk about different things; I like to make my poetry relatable. I don’t believe in art for art’s sake. I have a unique responsibility to tell my story and a lot of the time when we don’t tell our story someone else is going to come along and tell our story for us. It’s not going to be accurate or even in our voice, and I think it is vital to write in our own voice.
Sail: What do you think of the new wave of Emirati female poets?
Afra Atiq: I’m so excited for the future and so optimistic because we have all these amazing Emirati poets coming out: we’ve got women like Shahd Thani, Hessa Al-Banafsaj, Shamma Al-Bastaki who are paving the way…there are so many artists out there.
Sail: What type of feedback do you receive from your audience?
Afra Atiq: With every art form you always get feedback; for me, it’s been positive. I love interacting with the audience after the show; those are my favorite moments. When someone tells you your poetry relates with them on a personal level.
Sail: Have you ever considered other art forms?
Afra Atiq: Well I dabbled in theater and music for a while. But they all center on the power of words and the life you can give to these words, which is why I settled on the spoken word.
Sail: Do you get nervous before performing?
Afra Atiq: Yes, and I think it reminds me that I love it.
Sail: What are your pre-performance rituals?
Afra Atiq: I normally eat something before I go on stage! I have to remember why I do this and it’s that thought of being in the moment that pulls me together.
Sail: Have you ever improvised in any of your performances?
Afra Atiq: So many times, because sometimes during the performance I have to make some changes. Sometimes I forget the words and I have to improvise. It’s a skill to be able to do that.
Sail: What poetic elements do you incorporate into your performance?
Afra Atiq: A lot of it is rhythm. Spoken word poetry is content and form; it needs to be appealing as far as the sound goes. There’s a lot of moderation in wordplay; ups and downs, like how does this word look when it is turned inside out? How can I combine it with other words? What words sound like it?
Sail: Have you ever considered writing poetry in other forms?
Afra Atiq: I probably would at some point, but I’m sticking to spoken word for now. There are a million ways you can go with it.