Ari lived for several years in a house with life-sized metal horses on top. She grew up without ever having to hear words like “John Leguizamo” or “Fran Drescher,” courting fairies in the backwoods of Maine. In another incarnation of her life, she fought for the rights of people who have been screwed over by the system. Around that time, she held her weight at slam competitions, competing against some of the biggest names in the business. She has ridden her motorcycle across the country, arrived at jury duty in a torn t-shirt, leather jacket and cowboy boots. In a few days, she will be moving to a place about which Paul Simon once wrote, there are “rainbows in the high desert air, mountain passes slipping into stones, hearts and bones, hearts and bones, hearts and bones.” She wrote her most recent manuscript about hearts and bones, and livers and scars and people who’ve been burned alive. She is the person to call when you get a thorn stuck in your foot, and at 3 am when the woman walking in the street between your houses is warbling in a way you can’t quite translate—because little in the way of “scary things” actually rattles Ari. She leads people into the wilds of Wyoming and helps them realize that they can take care of themselves. So, in many ways, she won’t need our tidings of good luck as her life changes: she gets along pretty well in almost any circumstance. She is sure to make magic of things. But one way we can help is to send her, telepathically or via text message or on Facebook or in carepackages or letters, our useless facts and TV trivia, because it’s hard to get along in the world knowing only how to suture skin, set bones, craft a poem, fight for the rights of queer youth and of prisoners, and survive in the wild. One day, she might just come upon a troll manning the territory between two worlds, who asks her a question about Three’s Company or The Dick van Dyke Show, and in this moment, we can rest assured: she might just need our help.
~Aisha Sabatini Sloan, Tucson Farewell Reading, Casa Libre en la Solana
Arianne Zwartjes teaches for the Sierra Nevada University low-residency MFA program, and in the past has taught at the University of Arizona, the United World College, and Santa Fe Community College. She has also worked as a wilderness program director, an EMT, a wilderness-medicine instructor, and a carpenter. She splits her time between Tacoma, WA, and the mountains of Colorado.
Her writing interests include the medical humanities, autotheory and autopolitics, constructions of race and whiteness, and body/otherness.
Her newest manuscript was just longlisted for the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, and shortlisted for Tarpaulin Sky’s Book Award.
Contact her at ari.zwartjes [at] gmail [dot] com
Twitter @arizwartjes // Instagram ariannezwartjes