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Tommy Pico Confronts Nature Poetry With Nature Poem

By Harriet Staff

Tommy Pico

Tommy Pico’s newest book entered the world this week, courtesy of publisher Tin House Books. Nature Poem approaches the concept of nature poetry, along the way exploring queerness and American Indian identity through the perspective of Teebs, a “character who is trying to reconcile his past with his present.” Nylon introduces readers to Pico (and Teebs) in a recent interview “about the process of creating his second book, how he views his heritage, and his thoughts on camping.” From there:

What has Teebs been up to since IRL? How has he changed?
Teebs has definitely calmed down a little. He’s still got heavy gay slut vibes, but now it seems more out of enjoyment than mania. One of the main differences is that IRL is overtly self-reflective—it literally starts out with “I”—and is self-centered as a cyclone. It is a cyclone. Nature Poem is more outwardly reflective, contemplative even. Teebs has found the art remedy he was looking for in IRL, identifies as a poet, and takes on the institution of nature poetry.

The first few pages of the book discuss the narrator’s hesitation about writing anything resembling a “nature poem.” Where do you think the fear stems from?
The book was kind of an attempt to understand, confront, and reconcile stereotypical ways in which American Indian people have been described in popular culture. Oftentimes we’re depicted as being “noble savages,” [being at] one with nature and all that shit. It’s dangerous to me because then we become features of the landscape, not human beings, things to be cleared and removed. I wanted to write against these stereotypes in part to imbue nuance and humor and humanity back into people from whom it has been stolen from, historically.

How has your view of nature evolved from when you first started writing the book?
It has absolutely not evolved at all—you will not catch me camping for nothin’.

Read on at Nylon.

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Posted in Poetry News on Friday, May 12th, 2017 by Harriet Staff.