Local poet, Arielle twist, is reclaiming her sexuality as an Indigenous trans woman
by Dina Lobo
Sex, lust, desire, and identity are common themes explored in Arielle Twist’s poetry.
Twist, who works as an operations manager and sex educator at sex shop and bookstore Venus Envy, says she only started writing and performing her poetry a year ago after the support of her mentors and fellow authors, Gwen Benaway and Kai Cheng Thom.
Talking about sex has always been something Twist was comfortable with, and poetry allows her to “break into a world” where she can explore it.
“Sex is my bread and butter. My day job is talking and teaching about sex, and poetry is where I can take academia out of it and I can bring it back to my own body without sexualizing myself in front of a group of people,” says Twist. “It’s almost a way to reclaim my sexuality.”
Twist emphasizes that her poetry is also a way to reclaim a visible sexuality of an Indigenous trans woman and a sexuality that makes people uncomfortable as a plus size woman.
“I’m trying to decolonize how I see sex. I’m thinking about how I want to decolonize my desires in a way that lets me see myself as desirable.”
The agency Twist has in her writing is obvious, but it also comes with vulnerability. Something she says takes a lot of confidence and holds power.
“As a trans woman of colour, we don’t often choose when we get to be vulnerable, so choosing the narrative of when I’m vulnerable with people is an act of resistance in terms of when I can be vulnerable and how I can be vulnerable.”
Twist has found a space for her unique identity as both a trans woman and an indigenous woman to coexist, and she believes they are integral to each other. Since Twist is one of the few trans femme Indigenous artists in Canada, she believes it’s important to share her unique identity and experiences in her writing.
Although the tokenism of women of colour and queer artists isn’t something new to Twist, she says her identity will continue to influence her writing.
“Those things are a part of me and they live within me.” Twist adds, “People are hungry to hear different stories, these are stories that haven’t been told by many people.”
Hoping for its release in 2020, Twist is in the early stages of working on her first book.
“I think people are ready for this book and excited about my work. I’m excited about putting stuff in the world and I can see myself doing this for a very long time.”