My name is Gerrit De Feyter. Pleased to meet you!
I was born 16th November 1981 in the idyllic city of Ghent, Belgium, known for its medieval architecture and lovely waterfronts by the river, as well as for its vibrant nightlife and diverse cultural offer. I grew up in a village halfway Ghent and Brussels, near the city of Aalst. I however always went to a school in Ghent, so I still spent a lot of time in my city of birth.
Already as a young child, I was very curious about the outside world. From a young age on, I showed an interest in subjects such as religion, geography, different cultures, … I was quite solitary as a child, and spent several hours each week studying maps, memorizing names of countries, locations of cities, flags of each country, … Seeing the world and discovering all the beauty it has to offer was a childhood dream of mine. I loved socializing mostly with adults who had already traveled quite a bit and who could tell me a lot about far away places. I can safely say my travel books and maps were my best friends as a child. These were the days before the internet, and I could stare for hours at those tiny dots on the map (remote villages in the Arctic, remote isolated islands, cities in countries very far away, …) wondering/daydreaming what they’d be like in reality. Back in those days, I didn’t have Google Images or YouTube to verify if my ideas were somewhat near the reality or not, but just the daydreaming was lovely in itself.
While the entire outside world appealed to me and I just wanted to read and learn about as many countries I could, I had a special interest in the Arctic and the Far North (countries such as Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and the Canadian Arctic appealed to me an incredible lot) as well as in remote islands. At a later age, a special interest in the Middle East would develop as well.
During my teenage years, I also started groundhopping. This is a hobby in which a person tries to visit as many football (soccer) grounds as possible, trying to visit every ground at least once or having a list of grounds he wishes to visit. I still love this hobby today, well over 20 years later.
After my primary school and secondary school career, entirely spent in or very close to Ghent, I started several courses across the Flemish region of Belgium. I studied sign language in Mechelen, took a course to become a typist-notetaker for the hearing impaired and visually impaired (a course I completed succesfully), and started studying in Leuven to become a librarian. I combined the librarian course with my first job, which was in a call center near Brussels.
However, as I had reached my early twenties, the call of the outside world and the desire to travel and see the world became too strong to resist. With only one year left before completing the librarian course (which I became more and more disinterested in), I was offered the opportunity to move to Dublin (Ireland) and take up employment there. It was one of the harder choices I had to make in life so far, but the desire to travel was big enough that I took the leap. I moved to Ireland in the summer of 2004.
Dublin was not the best experience for me though. The city is very touristic, and mainly has a very vibrant nightlife. The areas of Dublin I found interesting were relatively small though, and I found the suburbs to be quite grey. Life in Dublin was expensive, while the city didn’t have that much to offer that I found appealing. I however loved day trips to the very charming coastal towns just outside of Dublin, such as Dún Laoghaire or Dalkey, and I adored trips to the beautiful West coast and Belfast. In 2005, I decided that I wanted to leave Dublin, but had not yet fully discovered Ireland. I was offered a job in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and relocated to an apartment very close to the university district and city center.
Belfast was a great experience. It was in Belfast I began to experiment with art. I became part of the very lively underground arts scene, and befriended several people who were in a band, or otherwise involved in arts. It was very inspiring to be immersed in the artistic scene, and I started to write my first poems. Living in an English-speaking country, and influenced by mainly artists from the English-speaking world, it came spontaneous to write in English.
While living in Belfast, I traveled to numerous other places on the island, such as Derry/Londonderry, Bangor, Limerick, Cork and the South coast, … as well as traveling to England several times, including visits to Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester.
In 2007 I seized the opportunity to move to Turkey and pick up employment there. I settled in the Asian side of Istanbul, in the Maltepe area to be precise. The areas I loved most to spend my spare time in were, with the exception of lively Kadiköy, on the European side though. I especially fell in love with the beautiful historical area of Sultanahmet where I could spend countless hours in the Blue Mosque or Grand Bazaar, as well as the lovely Bosphorus walks in Beşiktaş and Ortaköy. Sadly, enough, issues with the working permit cut the stay in Turkey short, and I had to return to European Union soil after 6 months. I was offered employment in Berlin (Germany).
I had a lovely time in Berlin, where I resided in the very multicultural district of Wedding, where a large Turkish community lives. I also socialized with plenty of other foreigners residing in Berlin, enjoyed the vibrant night life and subcultural areas of Berlin, and explored several cities nearby such as Potsdam, Dresden, Leipzig, Magdeburg, and Szczecin (Poland). I would stay in Berlin for a little shorter than a year, and then decided I needed a fresh start. An unexpected employment offer from Prague (Czech Republic) offered a new challenge. I never really considered the Czech Republic before, but when the offer came I figured it could be a new experience and worth the try.
However, life in Prague was not the most pleasant experience. The language barrier made it hard to immerse in the cultural scene, while my interest in art was growing very strongly. Also, while Prague has a beautiful city center full of wonderful historical sights and architecture, the suburbs can be quite gloomy and grey. Also, the low salaries were not on par with the cost of living, and it was a struggle to make ends meet every month. I also had some issues with my health, and found it hard to address those problems in Prague. While a return to Belgium seemed the logical option, a last-minute change of mind occurred when I was offered a job in Barcelona (Spain). I always loved holidays in Spain, and figured it could be a nice country to reside in too. So I decided to give it a chance despite the health issues that were an issue back then.
I stayed in Barcelona for 3 years and loved life in the city. The city had everything I could possibly like in a city. Which other city has beaches, a mountain, a beautiful old city center full of wonderful architecture, a vibrant nightlife, great cultural offer, and a large artistic scene? I lived in the old fishermen district of Barceloneta, just a couple of minutes walk from the beachfront.
It was also in Barcelona that I truly developed myself as an artist. I had already written some poetry, but as inspiration grew, and as I realized the incredibly strong potential of art to spread a message, I decided it was time to focus more on poetry and start sharing my poems with an audience. I started to develop a conceptual project using poetry and public speeches to raise awareness about mental health. I wanted to pass a message that people with a mental health issue have regular dreams, desires, hopes and emotions just like everybody else, and that they should be proud of who they are and believe they too can realize their dreams. Poetry and public speaking became my way to spread this message. I also wrote some romantic poems, political poems, as well as some uncategorized, but the main focus was on breaking the taboo about mental health.
I befriended other poets in the lively arts scene in Barcelona, and they helped me realize my first poetry booklets (not officially published as yet, as I focused on spreading my message through performing on stage) and to start performing my poems on stage. My first experiences with performing in front of an audience were in the Lletraferit bar in the bohemian old city district of Raval. Being on stage may come across as frightening at first, but I found it to be very liberating. The stage offers a place where you can fully dedicate yourself to art and the message you wish to bring, and where you set your own rules. My first solo performance took place in “La Papa” in Barcelona.
After 3 years, completing 8 years abroad, I left Barcelona and returned to my native Belgium. I did not realize all my “foreign dreams” (for example I would have loved spending an extended amount of time in Norway, Israel or Morocco, but it was very hard there to find a job and/or arrange residence and working permits), but this means I still have a lot of places left to discover, and while I returned to my native country, traveling remained a very important aspect of my life, and I still have a very strong wanderlust.
I settled in Brussels, a city in Belgium I always loved to spend time in, but that I never lived in before. I found a tiny yet very well-located apartment in the Sablon/Marolles area of Brussels, very close to the city center. Brussels always appealed to me as it is a very big (for Belgian standards), multicultural and diverse city. I love life in big multicultural cities.
Having moved back to Belgium, I continued to focus on further developing my artistic project, and started to perform on stages across the country. I befriended several other poets, and got immersed in the small yet active Belgian poetry scene.
Also, as my field of interests had grown a lot over the years, and people always told me I had a talent with words and writing, I decided to pursue a career in freelance writing and journalism. I had so far always worked in call centers and customer service (or similar jobs), and while those jobs allowed me to live in and experience different countries for 8 years, I figured it was time to try to do professionally what I really love to do: writing.
I would stay in Brussels for over 8 years. I then moved to my city of birth, Ghent, for the first time actually residing in the city. I am still living there as for now.
My current ambitions remain more or less the same, with a focus on writing and pursueing a freelance writing career, as well as continueing to develop my artistic project. And, of course, continue to explore this beautiful world by traveling as often as I can.