Tommy Pico

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Pico at the 2018 Texas Book Festival Tommy Pico 2018.jpg
Pico at the 2018 Texas Book Festival

Tommy Pico is an indigenous (Kumeyaay Nation) writer, poet, and podcast host, born December 13, 1983. [1]


Early life

Pico grew up on the Viejas Reservation of the Kumeyaay nation, near San Diego. His father was a reservation chairman. [2] [3] Pico started writing comics at age 5, and as a teenager created zines and wrote poetry. [4]

He attended Sarah Lawrence College, where he studied pre-med with the intention of returning to the reservation as a doctor. He decided not to pursue medicine and moved to New York City, where he worked as a barista in Williamsburg and started writing poetry. [2]

As of 2018, Pico lives in Bushwick, Brooklyn. [4]


In 2016, Pico's first book IRL was published by the small press Birds, LLC. [5] IRL is written as one long text message, drawing on the epic tradition. [4] IRL received critical acclaim and was included on best-of-the-year lists for 2016. [6] [7] In 2017, it received the Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize. [8]

Pico's second book, Nature Poem was published in 2017 by Tin House. Pico again used the epic format, in this case to explore and challenge stereotypes of Native Americans as "noble savages" who are one with nature. [9] Nature Poem also received critical acclaim. [10] [11] [12] Pico followed Nature Poem with Junk in 2018 and Feed in 2019. Pico considers his four books as a series called the "Teebs tetralogy". [13] [14]

Pico co-curates the live reading series Poets With Attitude with Morgan Parker, [15] and he is the co-host of the podcast Food 4 Thot , a podcast about queer identity, race, sex, relationships, literature, and pop culture. He is also the co-host of the podcast Scream, Queen! with Drea Washington. Scream, Queen discusses marginalized people and horror films. [16] [14]

In 2018, Pico was commissioned to create soundscapes for New York City's High Line park and a walking tour of Seattle for Vignettes Gallery and Gramma Press. [14]


Pico's second book, Nature Poem, was the winner of a 2018 American Book Award and finalist for the 2018 Lambda Literary Award. He was a 2018 Whiting Award Winner for poetry.


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  1. "Meet Tommy Pico, the Native American, Beyonce-loving poet". Interview Magazine. 2018-03-27. Retrieved 2021-04-12.
  2. 1 2 Moskowitz, Peter (September 9, 2016). "The Anger and Joy of a Native-American Poet in Brooklyn". The New Yorker. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  3. "Tommy Pico". The Poetry Foundation. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  4. 1 2 3 Street, Mikelle (February 14, 2018). "All Media All Star". The New York Times. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  5. Knapp, Michaelsun Stonesweat. "The Saturday Rumpus Interview with Tommy Pico". The Rumpus. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  6. "Best of 2016: Best Poetry Books & Collections". Entropy Magazine. November 30, 2016. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  7. "Literary Hub's Best Books of 2016:Our 35 Favorite Books of the Year". Literary Hub. December 20, 2016. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  8. "The Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize". Brooklyn Public Library. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  9. "Tommy Pico's New Book Confronts American Indian Stereotypes". NYLON. May 9, 2017. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  10. "PW Picks: Books of the Week, May 8, 2017". Publisher's Weekly. May 5, 2017. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  11. "Destruction and Deconstruction in Tommy Pico's Nature Poem". Los Angeles Review of Books. May 9, 2017. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  12. Cornum, Lou (May 11, 2017). "Brooklyn is a Broken Land: on Tommy Pico's Nature Poem". Brooklyn Magazine. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  13. Burt, Stephanie (27 November 2019). "Tommy Pico's 'Feed': A Book-Length Meditation on Modern Appetites". New York Times. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  14. 1 2 3 Vinson, Arriel (5 November 2019). "Poetry Can Give You What You're Hungry For". Electric Lit. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  15. "The Archive Project - Dawn Lundy Martin, Morgan Parker, Danez Smith". KUOW. February 14, 2018. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  16. "Food 4 Thot". Food 4 Thot. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  17. Pico, Tommy (2016). IRL. Birds, LLC. ISBN   9780991429868 . Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  18. Pico, Tommy (2017). Nature Poem. Tin House. ISBN   9781941040638.
  19. Pico, Tommy (2018). Junk. Tin House. ISBN   9781941040973.
  20. Pico, Tommy (2019). Feed. Tin House. ISBN   9781947793576.