Tommy Pico Finds the Poetry in Queer Life in New Book Nature Poem

Tommy Pico

Tommy Pico’s second collection of poetry, Nature Poem, is a product of spite. On a recent night out drinking with his best friend, talk turned to stereotypes: The Brooklyn-based, Native American writer’s friend said she wouldn’t eat fried chicken or watermelon in front of white people because, as a black woman, she didn’t want to play into those stereotypes. For Pico, that meant never writing a nature poem because, he says, “it’s so stereotypically Native American.” A stranger at the bar, a white man, interjected, asking him why he was “limiting himself.” 

The interaction angered Pico at the time, but the next day, he was on a porch “petting kitties with lavender in the air” when he decided, You know what, I’m going to show this guy why I can’t write a nature poem. He put pen to paper without any specific intent, and 23 pages later, it dawned on him: He had, in fact, written a nature poem. 

The resulting book finds Pico incorporating or indirectly referencing his surroundings in freewheeling, intimate verse, while turning a humorous lens on life as a queer man:

Gay men are the worst people ever
bc if they don’t want to fuck you, — 
you are nothing to them.
Yet they love dogs.

“I never studied poetry, so I don’t have an idea of literature being something that is separate from myself,” Pico says. “So that’s why tweets, Facebook status updates, text messages, DMs—they all find their way into my work.”

Photography: Greg Vaughan

Styling: Michael Cook

Photographed at the NoMo Soho Hotel, New York

Groomer: Scott McMahan at Kate Ryan Inc.

Jacket: Gucci, T-shirt: Calvin Klein

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