Arielle Twist is a writer and sex educator from George Gordon First Nation, Saskatchewan who currently lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is a Cree, Two-Spirit, trans femme supernova writing to reclaim and harness ancestral magic and memories.
I read that bio before I'd ever met her, and wondered what exactly it meant for a person to be a supernova - but then, within minutes of meeting Arielle, I got it: she's a woman whose every word, spoken or written, seems propelled by an unstoppable force. In conversations, she can make you laugh so hard you cry; onstage, with her poems, she can bring you to tears. In either context, she takes a keen understanding of the world - its emotional depths, its intellectual contours - and turns it into something magical. I like that her favourite instagram account does kind of the same thing.
EH: What's your current online obsession , and what's so fascinating about it?
AT: My latest online obsession is the instagram account called @exotic.cancer. What’s so fascinating about it is how it is such a visceral, otherworldly look inside of what sex workers and exotic dancers experience! (See the play on words with exotic cancer!) Its an intriguing and beautiful page with incredible art that has to do with sex positivity, how men specifically treat femmes within the industry, and the beauty/horror that comes with working in a sex industry.
EH: This account is WONDERFUL. How did you find it?
AT: I found it by following other rad sex educators and businesses! I think it was New York Toy Collective that first shared the account on their page.
EH: Do you have a favourite one? I love how all the portraits are all drawn with equal amounts of tenderness and super-sharp humour. All the guys look like horrifying trolls and also super pathetic/pitiable at the same time. Like little weird gremlins. "Visceral" is exactly the right word.
AT: I like them all but the hairless cat is incredible. I do find it fascinating to draw the men as weird little gremlins, which is the best way I've heard it described.
EH: I feel like the connection between your interest in this account and the work you do as a sex educator is more obvious, but I'm wondering whether you feel like it interacts with or relates to your poetics too.
AT: I do think there is a relationship between my interest in this account and my work as a poet. I think I’ve spent so much time trying to marry my poetics and work as a sex educator that they have become hard to tease apart. I want to create art about two-spirit sexuality: an unapologetic, messy, real depiction of sex and relationships as an indigenous trans woman. Like how this art is an other worldly look into the life of a femme exotic dancer/sex worker. It’s unapologetic, it’s messy and it’s real. I want my art to be as visceral, as thought-provoking and as loud one day.
The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.