Speaker 1 00:00:10 Welcome to season three of to be Continued troubling the Archive. In today's episode, guest producer Cole Linsky is in conversation with Sean Carson Kinsella. They will be talking about being in digit queer, the role and gift of storytelling, and how powerful that gift can be when informed by their multifaceted humanness.
Speaker 2 00:00:33 Welcome. Uh, my name is Cole Polinsky. I am a guest producer on the podcast series to be continued. Uh, I am really excited to be here today and to, uh, be here with my guest Sean, who will, uh, introduce themselves.
Speaker 3 00:00:55 Alright, uh, <unk> Um, <unk> Irish. Um, so I'm Sean Carson Kins, uh, and, uh, what I just said in, uh, one of, well, it's a mix of the two languages or two of the languages that my people come from. Uh, so a little bit of an ishk, a little bit of <unk> Nien, uh, and what I introduced and said, um, uh, my traditional, uh, protocol greeting. Uh, so I talked a little bit about where, um, I come from. Uh, and my family is from, uh, treaty six, um, as well as Northern Ontario. Uh, and my dad is, uh, Irish, uh, by way of Montreal. So that was all my, in my intro there. Um, cuz I told you a little bit about the language and culture groups that my, my family comes from. Um, and, uh, where we, uh, reside currently, uh, is near the Battlefords in Saskatchewan. Like our family, uh, has been there for, for many generations.
Speaker 3 00:01:58 And, uh, we're there, um, before, um, I think even the treaty siding process, uh, took place. Um, and so that's, uh, where they continue to reside. Uh, and where I currently reside is where I was born, uh, which is in to Toronto. Um, and, uh, the other place that I live is, uh, called, uh, swa, which is, um, now called essentially the Trent River. Um, but it's, uh, I believe it means place where, uh, where they're sort of like bad rapids. Um, and you have to take your canoe out is one of the translations I've heard. Um, so that's, uh, I kind of migrate between those two places, which is, uh, very fitting, um, because I come from very migratory people. Um, and, uh, yeah, I'm really delighted, uh, and honored to be here <unk>
Speaker 2 00:02:45 Thank you so much. Um, so my name is Cole Polinsky. I use they, them pronouns. Um, my people are Abe from, uh, Cuba, wick First Nation. I am am a registered band member there, and I am also met, um, and tracing that lineage, but have been, uh, lucky enough to have teachings been passed down to me through my grandfather, um, before he passed. Uh, and, um, I was born and raised in North Bay, Ontario, the territory of the Ning people, anishnabe people there. And, uh, then I moved to Anishnabe Algonquin territory of Ottawa, um, oh my God, almost over 10 years ago to pursue, uh, post-secondary and kind of continued my journey here. Um, I think it's important, uh, when we do introductions, oh, sorry. I wanna welcome you here, Sean, and, and thank you for being with me today and in conversation. And we're just going to like, talk about the theme of the podcast.
Speaker 2 00:03:59 So I introduced at the beginning, uh, that the podcast is a part of the, uh, queering the archives to be, to be continued queering the archives, um, exhibit, which I was an artist, a part of that initial exhibition in 2020. Um, I had a piece that was featured, it was called Grassroots. It was a piece that featured three protest images that I had beaded some bead work on top of to kind of tell the story of like how, um, many of our, our fights or, uh, uh, journeys or our fights for justice are intertwined. Um, and, and how a lot of those stories, um, often get, let get left behind in mainstream culture, especially when we talk about, um, indigenous, uh, re acts of resistance or queer acts of resistance. Um, and so I, the theme of this season of, of the podcast is indigenous, black, racialized, diasporic and queer archives of longings memories and inheritance in arts based practices.
Speaker 2 00:05:18 And kind of when we center, it's kind of centered around inheritance in the arts-based, arts-based practices or in our ways of, of like sharing art. And when I, like, the first thing that comes to my mind is like storytelling and how, um, like storytelling is something that's central to a lot of cultures globally and specifically to the indigenous communities of Turtle Island here. Um, so I kind of want to start by thinking about like how we've introduced ourselves at the beginning of this podcast and kind of maybe dive into why it's important that we like place ourselves in relation to the things that we mentioned. So I wonder if you have any thoughts about that?
Speaker 3 00:06:09 Yeah, so when I think about, uh, introducing myself, um, so part of it was situating it in the territories, uh, that I come from territories that my family comes from. Um, you know, I think it's important to recognize, um, that in a lot of ways, uh, like the stories, uh, of, of my own creation, um, are diasporic ones. And so, um, you know, my father's family, um, and part of my mother's being dislocated from Ireland, uh, because of colonization, uh, and ending up here, um, you know, my, uh, family left, uh, where they were from. So, um, Northern Ontario, uh, as well as Saskatchewan, um, because of racism, uh, ended up in southern Ontario, which is where, um, my mom grew up and, and where I grew up. And so I think it's important to recognize both the responsibility that we have to those broader, uh, kinship pieces, but also what it means to, um, to have some of those, uh, different ways, um, that we have come to be and how to create those connections to land.
Speaker 3 00:07:09 So for myself, um, you know, another thing I often talk about is, um, that I'm zito. Uh, and that's an, an adoption, um, into anishinabe, uh, family. Uh, that was important to me because, um, even though, uh, I grew up, um, off of my own territory, um, in treaty six, um, you know, it was important to me to build relations, uh, with indigenous folks that are here and to understand that that responsibility, um, of, of nations that we were historically allied with. So I'm also an acwa, um, or, uh, Plains Ojibwe as well. Uh, and so really these are talking about our relatives, um, and folks that we would've been in relationship with and been related to and understanding those kinship structures. Um, when I think of my own family, I also have to reference, uh, like the Cardinals, the jars, the Whitfords, the Claudes, and those other, um, folks who didn't have last names, um, uh, that were translated in English.
Speaker 3 00:08:04 And recognizing that those are also part of, of my creation story and kinship structures. Uh, and so I think, um, whenever I introduce myself, I wanna make sure that I am really tying myself back to who those folks are, that I'm responsible to, what communities I'm responsible too. Um, and, uh, you know, using the language I think is a really key way of doing that. So I think those are the ways that I try and make sure when I'm doing these introductions and situating ourselves that I'm searching for kinship with other people. Uh, and I think that's a very, um, indigenous way of, of doing things and, and looking for that, like trying to figure out how are we related, uh, to one another, how are we related to the territory? Um, and you know, who we're accountable and responsible to. Um, and those aren't necessarily ways that, uh, I would say a lot of times, uh, non-indigenous folks introduce themselves to each other, where it's often sort of like, you know, where you live or what you do for work or, you know, those sorts of pieces versus the like, real desire to understand the structure of how we we fit together.
Speaker 2 00:09:08 Yeah, I think that's really like important, uh, part of how indigenous people connect and relate to one another. Um, and I think like it's a lot, there's a lot of discussion all the time on like who you're responsible to and who you are. Um, connections are and who, and more within, like, in specifically in indigenous communities and now around like, who claims you, who you're responsible to and who you, um, relate to is like, really important. Um, and so I I really appreciate what you're s uh, what you said, um, around like grounding yourself in not only like the connections that you have made in the places and spaces you take up now, but also the ones that have come before you, uh, those ancestral, um, connections and, and lineages. I think for me, I'm still, uh, in the process of figuring out how to, how to best introduce myself in spaces and, and what spaces I, uh, what parts of identity do I embody.
Speaker 2 00:10:28 Um, not so much identity, but I guess like what, uh, what spaces am I taking up? What am I embodying in those spaces, and how do I introduce myself in a good way that is like all encompassing? And I feel like I don't have a, a spiel quite, uh, yet, but one day I like will have like that verbatim introduction that will roll off the tongue, um, that is the dream <laugh>. Um, so I just like, I love the idea of like introductions or these ways of like introducing and relating to each other or ourselves. Um, it, it's kind of reminiscent of like how everything has a is like within a circle, but has like a creation attached to it. You mentioned that, uh, the way you introduce yourself is a way to honor the creation of ourselves and of your story. And I was wondering if you could delve a little bit deeper into that and into, um, like why creation stories and stories of creation are so important, um, for us as indigenous people and as people of the diaspora. And also how, um, that storytelling, like what that means to you as, as someone who, who lives in this world.
Speaker 3 00:12:05 Yeah. So I think for me, a lot of it is that it, um, uh, like I think of the, what comes to mind for me often is this sort of like, uh, Cree word would goin this idea of kinship. And I think, uh, creation stories allow us to understand like our place in those, in those, um, in the cosmos. Um, and I think it provides a framing then for, uh, and I'm thinking like, I'm pulling on some of the folks I'm thinking about our, um, like Thompson Highway, um, who's a fantastic, uh, Cree playwright, um, and author, and he talks about this idea of, um, like the difference in the way we structure the world depending on how your creation stories function. Uh, so if you, you know, if you're using a creation story that is centered around like humans and humans as a dominant force, which I think a lot of, uh, settler colonial folks uses their foundational creation story, um, you know, whether that was the intended purpose of it or not, um, it leads you to a very different place.
Speaker 3 00:13:07 If you think about many creation stories from across Turtle Island that talk about that are place in the cosmos is actually the ones who were created sort of last and are, oh, like, oh, the rest of creation are, um, the knowledges that we carry, right? So it's the idea of like, if everything on the earth is an older sibling and we're the youngest, then we have the most to learn. And, you know, I think it creates a level of humility and a recognition that, you know, we're coming into this story relatively late. And so in that way, uh, it gives us, I think, a leveraged opportunity to really think about, um, what stories, you know, are we hearing in the land, uh, what stories can we hear from each other? Um, and I think it creates, uh, a really deep practice of listening, um, because everything in creation has a story, right?
Speaker 3 00:14:04 Everything in creation has a story of how it came to be here. Um, you know, a lot of our sacred stories, um, are sort of responses to some of those things and, and dictate why the world looks the way that it does. But I think it's also this idea that creation is like ever occurring. So I think, um, this is another area where, for me, the power of our creation story is in those stories because it doesn't, it's doesn't stop. Like the universe continues to expand, um, other parts of the universe continue to be created. Um, and so it isn't sort of this like linear way of thinking about stories, but one that, as you said earlier, Cole, like really speaks to those circles. So I think for me as an artist, you know, it's really trying to, um, capture some of those stories, um, that folks haven't heard before.
Speaker 3 00:14:57 Or maybe they've heard it, but I can frame it in a slightly different way. Or, um, you know, they're like, I think about a lot of like, um, what is palatable for the colonial audience around stories and what kind of stories we're allowed to tell. And I've been talking about this a lot lately that a lot of our stories that we're allowed to tell are ones that are based in trauma. Um, they're ones that are based in sort of things acting upon us. Um, and I think those are important, right? That's part of that truth telling, which I think is, um, really critical for storytelling. But it's not all. And I think when we think about the other kinds of stories, the ones that we're often not telling, uh, are those ones, um, that use our languages, which inform our worldviews, which inform our understanding of the cosmos, which inform like the fact that the way that I was taught, um, when we're speaking, we can only really speak from our experience or things that we have ourselves heard.
Speaker 3 00:16:04 Um, and so I think it's a very different way of thinking about stories, um, because there's no shortage, right? There's no shortage of supply, of stories all around us all the time. Um, and so I think the work of an artist is to try and, you know, capture our, those things in our unique perspectives, but also, especially as I would say, like a two-spirit, uh, aue artist. Um, it's really important to, you know, um, ensure that there's also stories of resistance, also stories of joy. Um, also, uh, stories that push back on sort of things like, um, sexual shame and stigma, uh, that came from colonialism to push back on ableism and transphobia and homophobia and allow for our full existence as humans as we fit into those other kinship structures and the, and the cosmos. Um, so I think it, it is a really like profound role to be a storyteller.
Speaker 3 00:17:02 Um, and I think is also something that's so fundamental as indigenous folks when you understand how our communities were traditionally structured. So I, I'll speak for an heel and like anishnabe people, you know, um, we lived relatively far north, um, you know, a around the Great Lakes, but often our wintering grounds were a little bit farther north and the, the earth used to be, um, and this is what I've heard some of our elders and old people talk about. You know, our winters used to last six to eight months. Um, and so because we were in smaller family units because of what the land could sustain at that time, you have a lot of time where you're not leaving a lodge. You're with a very small group of people. So what do you do to pass the time? Well, uh, as I understand it, um, you know, you told stories of creation, you told stories about how the world came to be, you told our sacred stories, uh, as a part of that, and there's a bunch of like traditional, um, restrictions as to why we tell certain stories at certain times and other pieces.
Speaker 3 00:18:05 But really it's a recognition that, um, what if storytelling was, um, a major thing that we did as opposed to, I think in, in settler colonialism artist feels like, um, I think of around when Covid happened, how, um, there was this discussion that like, art was, uh, less important. Like art was somehow like an added bonus. Um, but what if, you know, art and language and culture, like what if that was essential to our survival as humans? And what if we thought of it that way? You know, how would we elevate then, um, storytelling? How would we elevate the stories that we tell about ourselves, about other people, about our experiences, you know? And, um, you know, I, I think about, although it's like somewhat, um, like he himself is somewhat controversial now in community, I think. Um, but you know, uh, uh, something that's always stuck with me is the sort of, um, mass lecture that Thomas King did, uh, where he talks about how stories, the truth about stories is that that's all we are.
Speaker 3 00:19:11 And so instead of thinking about us as a human, um, I think, you know, and this thing that's extracted from the rest of creation, you know, what if we're all just bundles of our own stories, uh, interacting with other stories of creation, uh, all the time. So I think it's a really profound shift in, in the way we think about stories and also our own construction, um, because the world is uniquely seen through my perspective, right? No one else has my particular identities, no one else has my particular experience. Uh, and therefore, you know, there's a, a unique voice and perspective that every single thing in creation and every human brings. And so I don't think, like I said earlier, there's a shortage of stories for us to tell. Um, but I think that, um, there is a hierarchy in settler colonialism of who gets to be a storyteller in our communities. It was often like, you know, everyone could bring a story. Um, and stories were u used for teaching, right? Stories were used to entertain and to teach and to talk about morals, uh, and to talk about how we came to be here. So I can't think of anything actually more important than that.
Speaker 2 00:20:21 Yeah, you've just said so many powerful, like poignant things that I like don't know, which to grab onto first.
Speaker 2 00:20:36 The thing that resonated, I think the most for me was the idea around like the way the world view. Like if you start to think of us as people as bundles of stories, the way in which your worldview kind of shifts, um, as opposed to, um, thinking about us as like human beings or whatever that looks like. I think it also goes back to what you were talking about earlier about like kinship and relations and like how we relate to one another and to creation and what, and that creation is like always, um, happening, like you said, like it's not linear. It doesn't stop and start. It's just constant, like, uh, within those circles. Um, I think, yeah, it's just, I also want to touch a little bit about how you talked about, um, how storytelling is a way to like push those, um, boundaries or those, uh, worldviews, uh, that have been like so set in stone by settler colonialism. Uh, you talked a little bit about, you know, pushing back against ableism and racism and, uh, co settler colonial gaze and, and letting ourselves be kind of these bundles of stories or these, you know, humans, but in our multiplicities. Um, so I would love to talk a little bit about how you incorporate, or like how does your queerness or your two-spirit ness like inform your writing or your storytelling, and how, or how do those two things inform each other?
Speaker 3 00:22:38 I think I'll lean a little bit on, on sort of queer theory there to say, um, you know, I think this is where settler colonialism does us a tremendous disservice around limiting our complexity. So I think in a lot of ways, like, um, if we make, if we make the assumption, and I will for myself that like I've always been queer, um, then any story that I've ever written and or, and told myself, like it's framed by that because that's the lens with which I live my life. Um, and I think that, you know, when I think about how our societies, to my understanding for Anishinabe and the Hill and Thethe people operated, it was about how do you find a place for everyone and how do you make sure that everyone's perspective is honored? And there were councils and, and ways that our communities were structured to make sure everyone had a voice.
Speaker 3 00:23:33 Um, and so I think it's a little bit of that, of trying to speak to, to who I am, um, and be, be authentic to, to those pieces. Um, and also I find writing is beautiful to help you figure some of those things out. So I think for myself, like, um, you know, I write a lot of, a lot of smutty poetry, um, as part of my writing practice. Um, and something about that is there's, there's an ability within that to explore, um, desire and an explore attraction and write, you know, stories about fantasies, um, you know, and things that I'm thinking about. Um, and because it's this like ephemeral sort of world, um, you can really play in a way that I think brings a lot of joy, um, because it, it doesn't have to be restricted by rules, um, by things like grammar or settler colonialism or, you know, um, those normal romantic narratives that are just like, you know, assist hetero narratives.
Speaker 3 00:24:33 Um, we can play with desire, we can play with, I'll use an example. Um, something I try really hard to do is to not use pronouns, um, or to not, aren't you singular pronouns? Um, when I'm writing, and I think it's a really interesting practice as a writer, um, because you're like, well, when you think of how often, um, English and French and other colonial languages lean on pronouns, it's actually quite a challenge to try and write in that way to, to sort of gender neutral your language. Um, and I think it makes it more accessible for everyone, uh, because that way everyone can see themselves reflected in some of those fantasies and desires. Uh, cuz I think it could be really jarring as a queer person when every book is designed for straight people, right? And every romance is designed for straight people. Um, and, you know, every, um, a lot of work is designed, you know, to also really reinforce like, um, not only just heteronormativity, but also like monon normativity.
Speaker 3 00:25:36 And so for me, there's a challenge there about how do I like to queer something. It's really, how do I push it beyond this normative understanding of, of, uh, of stories and literature, um, and how do I play with language, right? So, um, you know, can I write, uh, a smutty story, um, about getting off without using pronouns? Um, how do we go about doing that? Um, you know, how can I, uh, push on some of the conventions that are contained in writing, um, to be able to, you know, play with those different elements? Um, and, and again, and decolonize language a bit, right? Because I think when we talk about how a lot of our other languages were traditionally structured, they're not structured by, by gender or pronouns in the same way. So, you know, it is a little bit of a sneaky way.
Speaker 3 00:26:26 And, and for myself, I also, um, will try and, and use, um, language in there, like indigenous languages, um, depending on what the feel of the piece is, um, and do some of those things because to me it's also about reclamation. So, you know, writing is a place that exists outside of some of the constructs of what everyday life looks like. Um, you can explore a lot of desires and things in, in sort of a safe, sacred space, uh, as a writer. Um, and, you know, I think it's also important to recognize that stories and writing, it's not necessarily for everyone or even for anyone, right? And I think that's the whole piece around, um, what it means to be a writer and a storyteller. You know, you may only write those things down for yourself. Um, and I think for myself, who, who does a little bit more, um, who puts my work in the world, you know, some of it is maybe this'll resonate with someone.
Speaker 3 00:27:20 Maybe this'll make someone feel less alone. Um, you know, maybe this will titillate someone or maybe this will make someone, um, will turn someone on or make them laugh, or, you know, hopefully all of the above. Um, and so I think that there's pieces there, um, around decolonizing sexuality, um, around pushing back on some of these, uh, notions of, of what, um, traditional literature looks like, uh, that I think is really important. And again, has an element of play and ceremony to it, um, because it is about sort of like messing with, um, the ways that, you know, traditional literature is done. Um, and, um, you know, and I also kind of joke that, uh, and I, you know, I think a lot about icons like Thompson Highway and others that have come before, um, where, you know, you, you can't directly translate some of our languages into English.
Speaker 3 00:28:13 Um, but you can also still, weirdly enough have fun with English. Like English can be a fun language to play with, um, but you just have to recognize that a lot of the seriousness that often comes with literature like that settler colonialism. So, you know, it doesn't have to be, um, something that is based in trauma. It can be based in joy, it can be based in ridiculousness. Um, you know, I find some of my favorite pieces of the ones that I've struck this really good balance with, like, it's sexy, it's really funny. Um, you know, it makes me blush a little bit to write. Uh, it certainly makes me blush a little bit to read it. Um, and, you know, hopefully, uh, for someone else, uh, it's something where for my community, like I kind of look at all of my, my poems and my writing as like tiny love letters, uh, to, to other Aya Guo, uh, two-Spirit Crip Indigenous people, because I'm not necessarily writing, um, for, uh, for another audience. I'm writing for my community. Um, in what ways that we can recognize each other.
Speaker 2 00:29:16 I think what I love the most is that your pieces, which we'll get into in a second, or your poems, they they do strike that balance, that balance between, um, I know for me, reading them as an audience member as, as one of the two-spirit, uh, chronically ill people perusing your Instagram, um, and, and hearing you perform and stuff, I definitely, uh, like feel the whole range of emotions when reading your work or experience, um, those moments of like tenderness or, uh, like harsh reality, but with like, uh, a gentleness with it as well. Um, and I think that's what makes, uh, a beautiful, um, story or like, uh, an interesting, especially like erotic or smudgy piece is when it can like invoke those emotions that are like a little bit, um, deeper than, uh, than just the fun, um, like surface level emotions. I think it's also, I would love to go back to how oftentimes, like you were saying, our stories are, or the stories that get told oftentimes are the ones that center around our trauma or our disconnection or our are, um, various like, run-ins with settler colonialism in violent ways.
Speaker 2 00:31:10 And I think prioritizing or creating this space in which we can share art and stories and creation that encompasses those full, um, full multifaceted parts of ourselves are really important, uh, and really like beautiful, uh, so I wanna say mcri for sharing that with us and sharing your like, philosophies on these things. And then also, I would love to, you kind of alluded to this, uh, recent earlier, but you have been participating in what I think you call smut tober, um, on Instagram, where you take prompts and write a little, a little diddy. Um, so I would love to, uh, kind of like hear more about that. Um, and what kind of like got you into, um, writing those pieces around those prompts and like, is that an exercise that you're doing for yourself or is it, um, yeah, like let's just explore that.
Speaker 3 00:32:21 Yeah, so I think I love a good writing prompt. Um, I think that, um, part of it is, um, you know, like one of my, like my first, uh, one of my first loves has always been reading and, um, and the written word. And I think I find prompts to be very creative stimulating. Um, cuz again, sometimes like, um, and I think we get into this a little bit later with some of the questions, but like writing can be a very isolated, uh, practice. Um, I think, uh, inherently, right? So because you're, you're in your head a lot, um, you're in your head about constructing, for me it's like constructing scenarios and writing out these muddy things. Like it's, it's a very isolated act. And so, like, I often, uh, for myself, um, you know, sometimes I'll be like, I'll be composing whole lines of work, uh, like in my head in the shower or like commuting or something like that.
Speaker 3 00:33:14 Uh, and I've always kind of done that. So what I, what do I love about proms is that it really, um, challenges me a little bit to kind of, um, get those creative juices flowing and create a little bit of a practice. This one, uh, called Slut Tober, um, was, uh, originated by um, sort of an internet friend of my bee, um, who does, uh, these amazing, um, uh, photo setss, uh, around the theme. And so, um, you know, uh, came up with, with the particular, uh, prompts and I was like, those are really cool. I generally like to do Indian October. Um, which I think was, uh, often like ink artists came up with it. And I started a couple years ago, uh, to do, um, writing prompts based on it. Um, cuz again, I think looking at different ways of, of creating art in our communities is also, um, important.
Speaker 3 00:34:03 And, and I'm not a visual artist in that way, uh, but I was like, I can certainly write bros based on this. Um, and so this year I've kind of tried to merge the two. And some of that I think is because for me, like I really, um, you know, I think decolonizing sexuality, uh, is, is really important to me. Um, and I think it's important, especially as a Crip person and as an indigenous person. Like, um, and as a, a guo person, like my sexuality is very fraught. Uh, it shouldn't exist, right? So especially as a Crip person, like I'm not supposed to have desires like I I'm supposed to be, um, you know, either hypersexual as a two-spirit queer person or, um, you know, and as a Crip person, like not sexual at all. Um, and settler colonialism has instituted in our communities a lot of shame, uh, in addition like actual trauma.
Speaker 3 00:34:56 Um, and that has happened through things like residential school, but also just, um, you know, especially as, um, femme two-spirit folks, um, like a lot of violence has has happened to us. And so I think there's a lot of internalized messages around shame that we're not supposed to be sexual or that's not supposed to be for us. And I think it's a really important reclamation, um, you know, to write somebody poetry and I think to do it artfully. So this is the thing for me is like, um, I really love writing poetry because of the like ability it has to tell a very a, a, a small story. Uh, and part of the challenge is how do you do it in a cohesive way, in a very small amount of, of text. Um, and so I like that that level of challenge because it, it's very, um, like it stimulates, um, so many parts of, of, uh, so many parts around how to do that.
Speaker 3 00:35:49 Um, and so I think for myself, like it was really like, I've been doing these kind of Indian art prompts the last couple years now. I was like, what if I just tried to make them smutty for the, the whole month, right? Like, what if, you know, and it's funny for me because even when I'm smutty often I end up being earnest anyway, um, just cuz of I think, uh, who I am as a human. So that kindness I think really comes through. But I really was challenging myself this month to kind of say, what if I made the thing that is an Indian art prompt smutty and did so in as respectful a way as possible, right? Because sometimes those things, uh, don't coexist. And that's part of like the, the, the bringing it, the of the two hashtags are about actually really truthfully decolonizing sexuality to say, I betcha I can do some creative things, you know, with some of these prompts that are very much based in sort of an indigenous sense of humor, uh, and fun and also based in sort of like a more, um, smutty sensibility.
Speaker 3 00:36:49 Um, and I have to give a lot of credit to be as a, as, um, someone who does this is part of sex work actually. Um, you know, cuz a lot of, uh, what they were doing as part of their work. Um, and so I think it's one of those pieces where, uh, it's a very mutually beneficial creative sort of piece because I think, um, they've been quite, uh, excited to see what I've taken and run with it. And I'm excited to see what they do with it also. So I think there's some really cool generative pieces that can happen, uh, when we, uh, are working across, you know, and they're also someone who has a, a queer and um, and a Crip creator also. So I think there's some really neat, um, sort of like solidarity that can happen when we, when we work, um, together on those things.
Speaker 3 00:37:31 So, uh, so that's really for me, what it came from is I looked at the prompts and I was like, this would be really fun and I did it for myself. Uh, doesn't come across this way sometimes when I read and stuff, but I'm actually quite, quite shy. Uh, and the idea of making people feel uncomfortable, it's like a recovering people pleaser for me is like very hard. So it is actually quite a push, uh, to put some of the, the stories and some of the SMU stuff out there. Um, and it's really just a lot of people giving me very positive feedback about how much it means to them and how much they enjoy it, um, and how much, um, they see themselves in it. That keeps me doing that work. Um, cuz again, I think it's really important to grapple with, you know, why, um, do those kind of poems make people feel uncomfortable?
Speaker 3 00:38:14 Um, because to be honest, like I know in our communities in a lot of cases, like the aunties and some of the folks that I know, the grandmas and some of the other folks like tell the filthiest stories, like some of our creation stories and our traditional stories are like really dirty and they're really funny when we talk about what we're allowed to be like, that needs to be part of it. That is just as traditional as the hunting and the fishing and the trapping, right? Was the stories we used to tell each other to entertain each other and make each other laugh and make each other blush. Like all of those things are a part of who we are, um, as indigenous people. And I think especially as queer and AUA folks, like that's the kind of thing that we can bring back to our communities because that's a way that we operate in our, in queer spaces also when we're allowed to be there. And
Speaker 2 00:39:02 Yeah, you're totally right with like aunties and COCOMs being like sometimes having like the dirtiest jokes. Um, I sometimes you, you're sitting around the fire and you, they just let let one rip and you're, you're totally taken aback, but it's, it's so funny to think that there's this, it's like this double edge, edge sword of like settler colonialism has made these things shameful, but at the same time, like in the way you were saying that like these histories and desires and, uh, they make up our beings as well and our bundles. And I, I just, I want to thank you for sharing that with us. And also I was wondering, um, do you have, has there been like a prompt from this set of prompts that has like, stuck out to you as like one of your favorites?
Speaker 3 00:40:06 Oh, that's a good question. Um, so one of the ones that I read, um, so I do, um, seasonally it sounds like actually is what's starting to happen, but I do seasonal readings, um, as part of a, a group called Smut Pedallers, um, that, uh, was started at Glad Day. Uh, and that particular reading series, um, started a little bit before Covid. Um, and it came out of actually the Naked Heart literary festival that I've been a part of, uh, the last couple years. What we do is really, we get together every few months and, uh, we just read money work. Um, and so, um, this the one that I did, uh, most recently, which was I think last week, although, uh, my days are getting a little blurred together. Um, I, I debuted one called Slime and that one, um, sometimes when I write as a practice I don't really know where it comes from and this was just an image, uh, and, and my brain kind of went with that.
Speaker 3 00:41:01 And so really it's actually a story about decolonization and it's a story about how would we distract politicians long enough, um, to like be able to actually like, get our items back from museums and reclaim what's ours. And so, um, you know, it really started from kind of a funny, like thinking about that place. Um, but I really enjoy, like, it's a very funny story, um, because it is both like very filthy but then also has that little bit of, um, like very tongue in cheek and very playful. Um, and so I think that one was really fun to write, um, just cuz it took me on a bit of a journey. Um, and that's the thing with my particular writing process, um, is, uh, I don't actually always know where it's gonna go. Um, so the, the stories, um, and the little sort of vignettes that are my poems often take me on a journey too.
Speaker 3 00:41:54 Uh, and so my hope is always, um, that folks reading it can get taken on that journey as well. And that I'm doing what I'm seeing in my head, um, and what I have kind of visualized that I'm doing it justice with the words that I'm able to, to bring to it, um, while also balancing those other pieces about, you know, how do I ensure the language is accessible? How do I play with, with English and kind of, um, wrap it to what I want to actually do with it. So yeah, I would say slime is a particular favorite. Um, yeah, it's like an interesting piece because I feel like for a lot of my writing, like it's really hard to choose to pick favorites, uh, cuz they all kind of feel like, um, this sounds really corny, but, uh, I know someone was talking about how, uh, I was talking to a, a friend of mine, Alicia, about this idea of what are some of our Cree roles are and this idea of giving life to something.
Speaker 3 00:42:48 And I feel like these poems often take on a life of their own. Um, so it's sort of like putting something out there in the world, um, a a life giving I guess in some way. Uh, and then being asked to pick like between the things that you gave life to. So some of them I think are better structured, like some, I'm just like, I don't know that I would make any changes to that the way that it came out. Um, uh, you know, cuz there's something about it that is just like, uh, it just came out the way that I, I would've wanted it to. And then other pieces, you know, if I had more time, um, I would tinker with. But you know, one of the things with prompts that is the challenge is like you're trying to, um, like produce content. Um, like it's a little bit of a challenge to see the kind of ways that you can produce content that is a little bit more, uh, like tongue in cheek is maybe a little bit less refined.
Speaker 3 00:43:40 Um, and there's something that's beautiful about that too, uh, cuz I think sometimes, um, the, the writing process, um, in a formal way, like it's very constructive, right? And there's lots of drafts and, uh, you do a lot of edits and you chop it down and, um, I think the beauty of doing a prompt and being able to sort of instantaneously post it on Instagram is, uh, that, that it's just there. Um, you know, and so there's some that I would maybe like in time alter and, and look at, and I feel that a way about my work, but what I appreciate about this kind of practice is that it ends up just being very generative. Um, and, and therefore regenerative as a writing practice, um, for me, um, you know, and I think is also like something that I get to share with the world and as I said, like hopefully, um, you know, resonates with folks and uh, and is something that, um, you know, is what I was trying to accomplish when I was sort of putting it out in the world.
Speaker 3 00:44:41 I find writing such an interesting, fascinating practice that way because it really is like this very self-contained thing in my head, um, that goes out in the world. And then I have, you know, it's a little bit like, um, remember hearing and teaching about, um, like gossip and the idea of like, um, you know, someone trying to blow on a, on a dandelion right? When it's still at seed and how the, the seeds go everywhere and you don't have control over where they go. And I feel a little bit like, uh, writing and social media and getting your workout there that it's a bit like that, right? Like once it's out, I, I can't recall it. I can't bring it back in. Um, so it, um, it sort of stands on its own and, and has its own life, um, outside of that, but also, you know, I think hopefully resonates with folks, uh, in the way that it was, um, that it did in my head. Cuz I, for myself, if I'm like, if I'm thinking that something is really funny, if I'm a little bit turned on after writing something and blushing, you know, um, I hope that it has that little spark that'll do the same for someone else.
Speaker 2 00:45:51 Uh, I want to thank you, Sean, so much for, uh, coming and, uh, speaking with me and sharing kind of your insight on how, uh, you relate to the world as like a two-spirit crip artist, uh, writer, storyteller, um, and kind of how that relation is, uh, and that kinship, which kind of was like throughout the conversation. And I was wondering just before we wrap up here, if we could, um, touch a little bit about why, or like how, uh, relationship or the theme of relation, um, is integrated in your writing.
Speaker 3 00:46:40 Yeah. So I think, um, I think for me, um, it's all relationship, right? So I think as indigenous people especially, uh, and I, I know that I've heard this from, from my anishnabe kid and elders, um, that we're highly relational beings, like that relationships is what we are. Uh, and so for me, it feels weird to think about any writing or work or art that I would produce being extracted from that. Um, you know, I think even though the process of making art, um, is, you know, a highly individual, uh, and sometimes isolated process, we do it in context to the, to our relations and communities, uh, and you know, and lots of people inspire art. So whether that's like sweeties and lovers, um, you know, and trying to like create more space for discussions around like folks who, you know, do non-normative relationship structures, whether it's queerness, whether it's disability, like all of those things are, you know, all of my work is inspired by folks in my life and folks I'm in relationship with, um, you know, to, to be able to create.
Speaker 3 00:47:50 So I don't, I think the work is created in isolation, but the context from the work, um, is all relationship, uh, and relationship with everything around me. So whether I'm writing about, you know, I, I wrote one prompt the other day about a panther, uh, and, and, and my cat, right? And I'm thinking about the relationship between a panther and the cat and someone transforming into a panther and like there being, you know, a sexy situation that comes out of it. Like all of that is relational, right? Because it, it forms the basis of who, who I am as a person and especially as an indigenous person. Um, so I think, um, you know, it ca like the writing can't happen without that. And I think, you know, some of it is that, as I said earlier, like I really feel strongly that what I write is meant to be a love letter to the communities I'm a part of, and to those folks who have given me, um, you know, love and sucker and um, and support and, you know, if I can, the small thing I can do is give someone a, a laugh or, you know, a throb or like something to make their life under the, like, horribleness that is capitalism and settler colonialism, like a little bit better, you know, through something that I wrote.
Speaker 3 00:49:11 I can't think of a better way to use those gifts, right? Um, you know, if I think that, um, I can make our survival a little better in whatever way that I can, um, you know, then I'm honored to do that work, um, and honored to be able to, um, you know, push some of those boundaries and, and experiment and play, uh, and hopefully that inspires people. And I know that it does like, um, that it has inspired people to do the same, right? So I I'm always really grateful, uh, when folks come to me and say, you know, I've started writing smutty things because I saw your stuff, or, you know, that really made me laugh or, uh, I felt seen in that moment. Um, and a lot of it is also like too, you know, it's, it's an interesting thing as a writer because a lot of folks think explicitly that the work that I write is about me, uh, and it's not right.
Speaker 3 00:50:03 So some of it is certainly inspired by like actual events or, you know, is inspired by people that I know or is framed in, you know, fantasy that I have. But really, you know, the, the characters that are created in the writing, um, you know, they exist on their own. So it's, it's not a matter of, like, that particular thing is something that happened to me, although that may inform it. Um, you know, so I think there's some really cool relationships there about how once it goes into that creative process, like there's something, you know, that is ceremony. Like there is a spirituality to, to the things we put in the world and the way that it makes people feel. Uh, and so I'm honored to be able to, to do that work, um, and to create those relational connections for folks.
Speaker 2 00:50:49 Yeah, I just think of that kind of notion in relation to my own work as like a bead work artist. And oftentimes within like the bead work community, you'll hear the phrase bead work is medicine. And like, I've often sat with that phrase and kind of, um, kind of like turned it over in my head. And it, it feels, it started to like, at the beginning of my beating journey, it definitely felt like, you know, the process of beating the slow, like meticulous work, the patience that's needed, the humility of like messing up a stitch or like adding a spirit bead, um, by accident, like it teaches you a lot of lessons. And then also, like, I feel like this complication of like, on the days, like there's this teaching around like, you're putting your own spirit into the thing you create and beadwork is medicine and what you, if you are beating and within good energy, like your good energy is in that piece, and it goes to the where, um, and I've definitely been like kind of complicating that notion of like, if bead work is medicine, then I shouldn't always be or only be beating in those instances of joy and, and good energy, but I could be beating in times of grief or in times of like other like, heavier feelings or in excitement or, you know, and those, those stories and, and energies get interwoven with that piece as well.
Speaker 2 00:52:29 And I just feel like that phrase could almost be, or that framework, that that phrase like represents, can be translated to like many art forms of like, you know, when your pen hits the paper or your fingers hit the keyboard, like that energy and that spirit is being poured into that creation or that that peace. And, um, I think it is like a very, um, it's like a gift to and an honor to be able to like nourish that creation for the time you have it and then to like release it into the world where, like you were saying, like, yes, like we don't really have control, um, over how people interact with it or how they experience it, but hopefully they experience it in, in like the ways in which we intended it. Um, and so I think that's like kind of the power that comes from, you know, going back to that role of storytelling or those, those roles of us as two-spirit people, um, but, uh, of those roles within our communities to like continue to share those gifts and create those stories and those creations. Um, so I just wanted to, uh, thank you again, uh, big mcg rich for joining me this evening. Um, oh this evening. Uh, I'd like hosting a radio show now. Um, but I would like to thank you, uh, for joining us today, uh, to have a conversation about, um, all things writing smutty. Um, if you would have anything you would like to, uh, like close off with, um, you can also, uh, plug any upcoming, um, like events you have going on or projects, um, and where folks can find you on the internet.
Speaker 3 00:54:29 I just wanted to say Chimi Canan for, um, for having me. I think, uh, I'm really resonating with that idea of like artists, uh, like beating and artistry is medicine. And I, what I was actually thinking about as you were talking about that is like, and I was thinking about both painters and beaters and writers and what we have in common is, you know, it's one brushstroke, it's one, you know, keystroke, it's one stitch at a time. We create these beautiful tapestries and these beautiful stories, um, through our work. Um, and it's all kind of in that way the same, right? Like there's always the, you know, the spirit beat of that small piece of text that I would change if I could go back, but I leave it because I'm like, no, this is the way that it was supposed to come. This is what it's supposed to look like, and the way that it frames it a bit different. So, um, so I'm grateful for that metaphor and way of thinking about it. Um, so I wanted to say Chimi for that. My stuff's on Instagram. Uh, it's at shva, k s e a n, uh, y t h e K. Uh, and I post all things muddy, um, there. Um, and yeah, I'm just really grateful to have had the time to sit and have this conversation. <unk>
Speaker 2 00:55:42 Thank you, uh, for being here. I am on Instagram at Wrestling Pine, and you can find everything bead work and art related for me there. Um, and I wanna say Rich, for everyone who has listened and who has maybe, uh, like heard what we've said today and it's resonated with you, I hope you've been inspired to write a muddy story or bead a smutty piece. Uh, now I'm like thinking of all of the like smut, tober beaded pieces I could do if I had like, um, unlimited hours in a day. Um, but thank you so much for being here and the end
Speaker 1 00:56:33 To be continued troubling. The Archive is hosted and produced by Anna Sha Hawk. Technical support for the show comes through from Fin's Son. A major thanks goes to Hunter Dee for their wonderful work in creating the logo for the series. The Intro and Outdoor Commission works by artist Chris Buck Binowski. The show would not be possible without the support of Q Ag and the Council for the Arts Digital Now Grant.