Contemporary Poetics of Trans Women of Colour Artists is a poetic performance lecture featuring 6 trans women of colour artists, poets, performers & media-makers: the artists interweave poetry, performance, story-telling and movement to create a space for their truths and subjectivities to emerge, both individually and collectively.  Contemporary Poetics of Trans Women of Colour Artists featured Gwen Benaway, Kai Cheng Thom, Kim Ninkuru, Arielle Twist, A.A., and was facilitated and curated by Kama La Mackerel. 

As vocal & public trans women and femmes of colour, we have a lot to say, IRL and URL. We make our presence and points of view heard through incendiary essays, truth-telling interviews, poignant tweets, tender poetry collections, ferocious performances & sassy Instagram stories. We push through every single barrier that seeks to silence us & render our lives invisible: we rise, we spit, we spit back, we claw out of our own throats to be heard. 

Contemporary Poetics of Trans Women of Colour Artists explores the individual and collective voices of 6 trans women and femme of colour artists, poets and media-makers who are also friends, mentors and peers to each other. This collective rendition is built from a series of conversations and workshops facilitated by Kama La Mackerel, and this piece also emerges from trans sisterhood, from years of trying “to figure it out” together.

Bringing together poetry, performance, story-telling and movement, and interweaving personal narratives, political rants, poetic renditions & didactic lectures, these contemporary artist and media makers create intellectual, aesthetic, and embodied spaces of expression that centre the voices of trans women of colour. The artists create a live immersive environment within which they foreground their distinct subjectivities as well as their collective voices. Speaking of love, life, death, dreams, aspirations, heartbreaks, intimacy and social demands, Gwen Benaway, Kai Cheng Thom, Kim Ninkuru, Arielle Twist, A.A and Kama La Mackerel create an immersive experience that captures at once their individual voices and the collective poetics of what it means to be trans women of colour artists in the contemporary Canadian contexts.

This piece comes out of a collective multimedia storytelling workshop facilitated by Kama La Mackerel. This piece also comes out of years of friendship, mentorship, peer support, deep love and shade throwing.

About the artists:

Gwen Benaway is a poet, writer and researcher of Anishnaabe and Metis descent based in Toronto. She is the author of Ceremonies for the Dead (2013) and Passage (2016) and her upcoming poetry collection Holy Wild will be released in the Fall 2018. 

Kai Cheng Thom is a social worker, mental health professional, writer, performer, poet, author of Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars (2016), a place called No Homeland (2017), and From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea (2017). 

Kim Ninkuru is a performance artist from Bujumbura in Burundi and based in Toronto. Using spoken word, voguing and visual art, Kim tells stories about being a black queer gender non-conforming body irl and url. 

Arielle Twist is a Cree writer, poet and multi-disciplinary artist based in Halifax. Her work seeks to enunciate decolonial languages that honour this land’s histories and Indigenous peoples. She is presently completing a degree at NSCAD and her poetry collection Disintegrate/Dissociate will be published in Spring 2020. 

A.A. is an emerging writer, poet, actor and film-maker. She has perform extensively in Toronto, and her film In My Mother’s Closet premiered at the Toronto Inside Out Film Festival in 2017. 

Kama La Mackerel is a tio’tia:ke-based poet, performer, visual and textile artist who comes from Mauritius and whose work articulates decoloniality through inter-disciplinarity. They is the founder and hostess of GENDER B(L)ENDER, Montreal’s only queer open mic, and she recently founded Our Bodies, Our Stories: a QTBIPOC arts mentorship program.

This project was supported by the Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies, in collaboration with QPIRG-McGill, LGBTQ2I+ History Month @ McGill, The Arts of Trans, Gender Diverse and Two-Spirit Lives and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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