Arts·Poetic License

A ritual of revolt: Nevada Jane Arlow upends ideas of what we're told we have to be

"Create your genitals out of pots and pans, remember — be creative, no one can tell you anything about the sex you have."

'Create your genitals out of pots and pans, remember — be creative'

Nevada Jane Arlow grew up in a small town, where the act of transitioning was difficult to explain to her family and friends. "I grew up in a place where there were many expectations about what a human is, what a human does, what a person should be," she tells us about her poem Autobiogenesis, featured this week in our series Poetic License. "It was an important way of, essentially, writing a ritual of revolt against that." See her perform a selection from the poem and read the full text below.

Watch Nevada Jane Arlow perform Autobiogenesis:

Nevada Jane Arlow performs Autobioegensis: a "ritual of revolt" against the expectations of what a person is. 1:35

As the world around us grows more and more uncertain, eight young poets speak their truth in the third season of the CBC Arts series Poetic License. Watch all eight performances now and read Nevada Jane Arlow's poem below.

After 200,000 years, the plans have fallen through and we require something different, an undomesticated something ready to be entangled.


Curl your fingers around your wrists, work your way up to your neck, kill who they think you are, (you're certainly not that), your soul will cut the head off.



Watch your eyes, but watch carefully for your own blood to turn a deep shade of blue flowing out as it all drains, make sure you pull out the skull out of your decapitated head.



One you have pulled it out, carve it, make it your own, creativity is key!



When the bleeding stops, feel free to dye it.



You will now wonder why, it is because you must define yourself, that your old idea of you is dead.



Shuck that meat sack like a stalk of corn, get nothing wrong, you won't need it.



Create a new skin of newsprint, write whatever you please.



Create a voice box out of a bird of your choosing.



Create your genitals out of pots and pans, remember — be creative, no one can tell you anything about the sex you have.



Your eyes? Ah well, you already figured that out, just make sure you're still watching.



Your feet must be spread into the earth, digging holes for seeds.



Feel what you need to do, you will feel it in your skull and genitals.



Mouths are more important than anything, you should always be screaming.



In using your voice, you have completed your autobiogenesis.



Congratulations, you are now whoever you are; whatever you might be.