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

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

Tommy Pico

A poet is liberated by playing to type. 

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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