Nature Poem

Title: Nature Poem

Author: Tommy Pico

Series: N/A

Publication Date: May 9th, 2017

Format:  Book

Genre: Poetry

Sub Genre(s):  Contemporary, LGBTQ+

Summary: Nature Poem follows Teebs—a young, queer, American Indian (or NDN) poet—who can’t bring himself to write a nature poem. For the reservation-born, urban-dwelling hipster, the exercise feels stereotypical, reductive, and boring. He hates nature. He prefers city lights to the night sky. He’d slap a tree across the face. He’d rather write a mountain of hashtag punchlines about death and give head in a pizza-parlor bathroom; he’d rather write odes to Aretha Franklin and Hole. While he’s adamant—bratty, even—about his distaste for the word “natural,” over the course of the book we see him confronting the assimilationist, historical, colonial-white ideas that collude NDN people with nature. The closer his people were identified with the “natural world,” he figures, the easier it was to mow them down like the underbrush. But Teebs gradually learns how to interpret constellations through his own lens, along with human nature, sexuality, language, music, and Twitter. Even while he reckons with manifest destiny and genocide and centuries of disenfranchisement, he learns how to have faith in his own voice.

What I Liked: This book felt like a book of poetry for people who say they don’t like poetry or don’t understand it. By using modern language and “text” speak like ‘yr’ and bc’ Pico makes it clear that this is a poem written for people living in the current time while still managing to pay tribute to his ancestors. His ability to move from humor to sadness to outrage in a single page is astounding and there were several times I found myself stopping to take in what I had just read.

What I Didn’t Like: I struggle with understanding poetry so my issue with this book is related to my own struggles with the content.  At times I couldn’t understand if the poem I was reading was separate from the long poem or if it was supposed to all be part of a single poem.  But this is a comment on my own lack of comprehension more than the book.

Who Should Read It: If you hear the word poetry and only think of dead white people, this would be a great book to pick up and see what young, modern poets are writing.

Review Wrap Up: This was my first time reading Pico’s poetry but it won’t be the last. I liked that he talked about serious issues like Indigenous rights and colonialism with more light-hearted things like music and where he’s eating that night. I don’t seek out poetry very often but I’m glad I picked this book up. I’d recommend this poem, especially for people who haven’t read a poem since they attended school.

Favorite Quote:  “How do statues become more galvanizing than refugees?”

“It seems foolish to discuss nature w/o talking about endemic poverty which seems foolish to discuss w/o talking about corporations given human agency which seems foolish to discuss w/o talking about colonialism which seems foolish to discuss w/o talking about misogyny”


Leave the World Behind

While reading this book, I kept thinking, “did Rumaan Alam think his book would be so timely when he was writing it?”  The topics of race, class, and family would have been enough to make this a very 2020 book but how could anyone have known that a book that discussed those topics AND a global catastrophe would be written pre-2020, only to be released at the end of what feels like the longest year ever?  As much as I loved this book, I would hesitate to recommend it right now, solely based on the content, knowing that some people might not want to read about the beginning of the end of the world while we are still dealing with a pandemic. However, if you feel like you can handle this topic right now, this book is one that you will be hearing about a lot over the next few months (Netflix bought the rights before the book was even released and Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington are already set to star in the adaptation,) and I really enjoyed this one, as much as you can enjoy a sad, semi-apocalyptic book.

Continue reading “Leave the World Behind”

Such a Fun Age

If there was ever a fiction book that needed to be read during a specific time in history, this is the book.  “Such a Fun Age” is topical in ways I don’t think Kiley Reid could have ever predicted.  At a time when white people feel it’s not only their duty but their right to call the police on black folks just trying to live their life, this book takes a look at the ripple effect these acts have on the people involved.  What I appreciate most about this book is Reid’s desire to highlight a real world problem while also telling a compelling and funny story.

Continue reading “Such a Fun Age”

The Black Maria

Reading poetry is a skill and one that I have not used in a while.  I used to read more in my teens and twenties and have no valid reason for waiting so long to pick up a book of poetry again.  That’s why I appreciated that a prompt on one of my reading challenges was a collection of poetry published since 2014.  This was a great excuse to seek out new poets and new collections and I enjoyed my experience with The Black Maria, even if I found myself confused by the format.

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