Seattle native Arianne True is a poet and folk artist, who is currently the Seattle Rep 2021-22 Native Artist-in-Residence. “I make poems, right now mostly experimental ones, and I also teach and mentor youth poets through a handful of different programs.” Learn about Arianne True…
Hometown: Seattle, WA (like actually in Seattle itself)
First job: The summer I turned 14, I did yard work on the weekends and then sometimes during the week worked doing data entry at a tax firm. Never had just one job even when I was a teenager apparently.
Favorite ways to spend your free time in WA: I like to watch the salmon come home in the fall.
Your biggest accomplishment and why: Finishing this manuscript (exhibits, which I’m working on through Seattle Rep) and turning it into an installation will be one of my biggest accomplishments soon! Like happening over the next several months. I’m so excited about it and the conversations it can spark/be part of. It’s also such a big project that I’ve been working on for a while, and I have very little executive functioning (i.e. ability to finish things and do long projects, I can really only do this stuff with a lot of support) so actually getting it out there, welcoming people through the door of the installation, that’s going to be one heck of an accomplishment and something I’m so thrilled about. And I have to do it, I’ve committed to my manuscript and myself and I’ve committed to Seattle Rep and other folks too, and I have the support, so we’re doing it.
The biggest obstacle you overcame: I’m not sure I’ve overcome obstacles, like I aged out of some obstacles (becoming a legal adult saved me from a lot of what was worst), and I’m still in process with most things that supposedly people overcome, like illness, trauma, systemic inequity and disability. I’m not convinced most obstacles are overcome; I think more often the obstacle transforms you, it transforms or changes somehow (and that’s usually by community work, not one person) or you learn to cope with it or heal how it affects you. I think those are more accurate narratives for my experience and what I’ve been through.
Someone who inspires you and why: My partner, Meg. She holds more grace, nuance, complexity and thoughtfulness for other people than just about anyone I’ve ever met, even when there are high stakes, and that’s helped me get better at it too and makes me want to keep building those muscles up.
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Don’t think anyone’s advice is the be-all end-all, especially if it seems like unquestionable writing wisdom – different things work for different people and sometimes what works changes over time even for the same person. Stay curious about the advice you hear and what cultural ideas are under it, and make space for your own wisdom – your knowledge of yourself is worth so much and a lot of times we let other people’s ideas cancel that out, so treat your own knowledge and wisdom as worthy (because it is).
Favorite quote: There’s a lot, but what jumps to mind now is something my high school writing mentor used to say constantly, which is “All writing is good writing because the act of writing is fundamentally good.” It took me years to get my heart around that one but now it’s a big part of how I relate to poetry and to art in general, both as a teacher and as an artist.
Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: This one’s been really hard for me to answer! I feel like nothing surprises people who know me because I’m actually pretty consistent, and everything surprises people who don’t know me well because I don’t fit a lot of mainstream assumptions or stereotypes. A bit like a good sci-fi or fantasy novel: different world but it makes perfect sense for itself. So I guess…two of my biggest passions are video games and Pacific Northwest ecosystems.
What makes someone fabulous: Sincerity and/or campiness.