Open Word: Arielle Twist and Gwen Benaway
Tuesday, November 19 at 7:30pm, Open Space will host a reading with poets Arielle Twist and Gwen Benaway as part of the ongoing series, Open Word: Readings and Ideas.
Arielle Twist is a Nehiyaw, Two-Spirit Trans Woman creating to reclaim and harness ancestral magic and memories as an author and multidisciplinary artist. Originally from George Gordon First Nation, Saskatchewan, she is now based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Within her short career, she has attended a residency at Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity, had work published with Them, Canadian Art, The Fiddlehead, PRISM International, This Magazine, and CBC Art, been Nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and Shortlisted in The National Magazine Awards. Her first book of poetry, Disintegrate/Dissociate, was published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2019.
Joshua Whitehead writes of the book:"Arielle Twist's Disintegrate/Dissociate is a miraculous debut of poetry that enacts exactly what it summons into the world. I am reminded here that we cannot, and should not, remove the body from story -- we must witness what we break and reciprocate wholly to what we must rebuild. This book is majesty, it is unabashedly honest, heart rupturing so, but also wondrous in its medicine-weaving. From floorboards filled with flora to a world destroyed because the speaker can will it so, from the waving Cree prairie through to a Mi'kmaq oceanic, Twist teaches us that 'if we must survive [then] we must write' and emerges a prominent new otÃ¢cimow in Indigenous literature."
Gwen Benaway is a trans girl of Anishinaabe and Métis descent. She has published three collections of poetry, Ceremonies for the Dead, Passage, and Holy Wild, and was the editor for an anthology of fantasy short stories, Maiden Mother and Crone: Fantastical Trans Femmes. Her writing has been critically acclaimed and widely published in Canada. She was a finalist for the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ writers from the Writer’s Trust of Canada, the Lambda Literary Award for Trans Poetry, and the National Magazine Awards and Digital Publishing Awards for her personal essay, A Body Like A Home. Her fourth collection of poetry, Aperture, is forthcoming from Book*hug in Spring 2020. She is also currently editing a book of creative non-fiction, trans girl in love, forthcoming from Strange Light in 2020. She lives in Toronto, Ontario and is a Ph.D student at the University of Toronto in the Women and Gender Studies Institute.
Billy-Ray Belcourt has said of her latest book, “In Holy Wild, Benaway sounds forth a chorus of pronouncements that look something like I am “x,” where “x” is at once unavailable to some and ever-proliferating: “this is what makes us holy / even if we are the only ones / who know it.” It is in this refusal of singularity that Benaway conjures trans life in a place that is both prior to and in excess of the violence that mires it. “[T]he first day of forever” is forever, is recursive, is softness, is an intimate life outside of the wrath of men who spoil the categories we install hope in, but, above all else, it is the emotional infrastructure for something like freedom. Let Benaway lead you there.” Holy Wild was just announced as a winner of the 2019 Governor General's Literary Award for poetry.
There will be books for sale in partnership with Munro's Books and a cash bar. Doors open at 7:00. Admission is free / by donation.
Open Space respectfully acknowledges that we are located on the unceded territories of the Lekwungen-speaking peoples, now known as the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations. We seek to honour and uphold these ongoing relationships to the land and its stewards as we work on these territories.
Open Space is not wheelchair accessible and is accessed by a flight of 23 stairs with two landings. There are two gender inclusive washrooms, one multi-stall and one single stall with a urinal. If you have any other questions or concerns about accessibility, please contact office [at] openspace.ca or 250-383-8833.