Tommy Pico : Junk

“Reading Tommy Pico’s Junk I kept thinking of Heather McHugh’s pronouncement that the main discipline of poetry is “to keep finding life strange.” Pico is the master of making the stone stony, or returning the sheer absurdity of being to everything, from grief to intimacy to dating apps to donuts. Junk insists on the urgency of the quotidian, of, to borrow a phrase from Pico, ‘vibrant inconsequence.’ It’s rare to read a book that makes living feel so alive.”–Kaveh Akbar; “A visceral exorcism of personal & collective demons…Pico demonstrates that a person’s many selves, traumas, anxieties, hookups, & breakups can become a marker of courage and survival.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

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One thought on “Tommy Pico : Junk

  1. Listening to this interview ending with Tommy Pico’s gloriously verbally musical reading from JUNK caps 28 minutes of sheer surprising discovery. Also, synchronicity.

    Dani Shapiro’s quote above on this podcast site about her experience being interviewed by David Naiman is so apt. I’ve never visited the podcast before, what a treasure trove! When I hear something on KBOO and often on BETWEEN THE COVERS with an author or poet that I want to revisit and share I go to their website. Tommy Pico’s stream of spontaneity in response to David’s rip rap of questions felt like a mystical encounter with a long lost childhood friend I never could have met.

    It was all delightful and energizing discovery hearing about Tommy’s circuitous trip to his Teebs alter ego, whose poetic voice is published by Tin House Press here in PoTown, Ore. Can’t wait to surf into that trilogy (soon to be quartet) and his current life in Brooklyn after growing up first as a class clown on the Viejas rez over the hills from San Diego, then more withdrawn post pubescent queer kid off to NY state for college.

    Then to choose upon graduation to settle among his creative colleagues and friends in Brooklyn rather than return to the So Cal rez or a life lost in the lights of San Diego. And the inevitable loss of confidence, job, sense of self in the most creative borough of the big city. Like a longtime musical, aesthetic and poetic-philosophical mentor of mine, J.J. Cale who passed away just as the economy came crashing down, also as was Tommy in his youth, Cale was living at the time in the muse filled lands ‘tween San Diego and Escondido and who was fond of saying, chanting under his breath and singing on his masterpiece album the dark Reagan-Bush era underside to “Morning In America” the Cale songs “Hard Times” and “Unemployment” on #8 “Consider my resources…”

    Tommy sure considered his human resources in gathering his Sarah Lawrence creative crew into a Brooklyn collective and it sounds in many different art forms they’ve been finding their niches, voices, lines and productive spheres. Here’s to continued survival and fulfillment while avoiding getting thrown on the manic or depressive side of each of your paths.

    The part of Tommy Pico’s interview here that made me realize the unlikely synchronicity of a Flushing, Queens hoodie kid late in life moving from the East Bay in No Cal following a paying job to PoTown, Ore only to be cut loose with no buy-out offer as I turned 50 and the interim years of being underemployed and ever on the cusp of homelessness realizing that in my life, despite sharing little else of Tommy’s unique Pilgrim’s Progress, except maybe for the continuous driven quest for encounters with poetic muses, this radio encounter with Tommy via David Naiman’s BETWEEN THE COVERS has elements of divine design or synchronicity was his dropping his own poetic mentor Archie Ammons and Ammons’ long poem “TAPE FOR TURN OF THE YEAR” and the influence of Ammons poem “GARBAGE” on Pico’s own poetic exploration of “JUNK.” Exhale…

    Keep on doing,
    Mitch Ritter\Paradigm Shifters
    Lay-Low Studios, Ore-Wa
    Media Discussion List

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