Profile: Gabriela Garcia Medina

International spoken word artist Gabriela Garcia Medina performs at the UNA GUC performance center Feb. 28.

On the evening of Feb. 28, a crowd of UNA students assembled in the GUC Performance Center to attend a performance by international spoken word artist Gabriela Garcia Medina.

Medina, who is originally from Havana, Cuba, grew up in London and is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles. Her work has taken her all over the world, to places such as South Africa, Cuba, Switzerland, Brazil and many locations across the United States.

“I don’t consider myself a slam poet,” Medina said about her style of writing. “It’s more structured and it’s easy to get hung up on the competition aspect of it, but I have featured at a slam competition.”

Medina has been writing since age 15.

“I was inspired to see that I could not only be a writer, I could also perform,” she said. “Writing and performing are my two favorite things, and my style of writing is a way to incorporate the two.”

Medina said spoken word requires a balance of several types of art forms.

“Performing requires delivery,” she said. “I’ve known some great writers who were terrible speakers and great speakers who were terrible writers. I wanted to create something new—something with style that wasn’t just performing—some kind of art. Ideally, I’d like to dance on stage. Performing is all about expression. I played violin as a kid; I’d like to do that, too.

“I think the writing that I do requires a sensibility—one to be able to express myself and nurture the audience. To be a good artist, you need sensibility to connect to others. My goal is to connect. You have to be able to feel for yourself and express it.”

Medina’s performance ran for more than an hour.

“I memorize by thoughts, not word for word,” she said. “I see images of the story in my head, and I remember the story that way. That way, it’s just more organic—more real.”

Medina said she enjoys the lifestyle that her career brings, but said is has its downsides.

“The worst thing is that I’ve been doing this for so long, I’m scared that it is beginning to define me,” she said.

Medina is currently touring the country. Her next show is in Knoxville.

“I’ve gotten really good at packing,” she said with a laugh.

Medina said being on the road makes her miss family and friends.

“People think that touring is so glamorous, but it’s not,” she said. “It’s lonely, and it’s easy to feel like a stranger on the road. That one hour that I spend on the stage makes the other 23 worth it.”