Junk
The third book in Tommy Pico’s Teebs trilogy, Junk is a breakup poem in couplets: ice floe and hot lava, a tribute to Janet Jackson and nacho cheese. In the static that follows the loss of a job or an apartment or a boyfriend, what can you grab onto for orientation? The narrator wonders what happens to the sense of self when the illusion of security has been stripped away. And for an indigenous person, how do these lost markers of identity echo larger cultural losses and erasures in a changing political landscape? In part taking its cue from A.R. Ammons’s Garbage, Teebs names this liminal space “Junk,” in the sense that a junk shop is full of old things waiting for their next use; different items that collectively become indistinct. But can there be a comfort outside the anxiety of utility? An appreciation of “being” for the sake of being? And will there be Chili Cheese Fritos?

Junk Details

TitleJunk
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 8th, 2018
PublisherTin House Books
ISBN-139781941040973
Rating
GenrePoetry, GLBT, Queer, LGBT, Gay, Fiction, Contemporary, Poetry Plays, Culture, Pop Culture

Junk Review

  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    My full review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, can be found on my blog.In Junk, a long poem made up of enjambed couplets, Pico grabs his reader’s attention and runs with it. Writing in the stream-of-consciousness mode, using textspeak, Pico embeds musings about love and loss, race and class, trauma and grief, within an expanse of pop cultural references, caustic jokes, and offhand remarks about daily life. The effect of reading the text in part parallels that of scrolling through a My full review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, can be found on my blog.In Junk, a long poem made up of enjambed couplets, Pico grabs his reader’s attention and runs with it. Writing in the stream-of-consciousness mode, using textspeak, Pico embeds musings about love and loss, race and class, trauma and grief, within an expanse of pop cultural references, caustic jokes, and offhand remarks about daily life. The effect of reading the text in part parallels that of scrolling through a Twitter or Tumblr feed: the somber mingles with the superficial, the solemn with the flippant. Because of its transgressive style, the poem won’t appeal to everyone: Pico emphatically rejects pretensions to universality, be it in his frank eroticism or his radical politics.
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  • Emily Polson
    January 1, 1970
    Imagine if Ginsberg's Howl were written by a queer Native American man with a wicked sense of humor. That's Junk, and it is everything. Tommy Pico presents a string of thoughts and anecdotes into one compelling long-form poem made of couplets. One minute I'm laughing at lines like “I’m writing a // sitcom about butts and counting called Number Two The tag- / line is ‘turn the other cheek’” and the next I’m left speechless with others like “I’m an expert at // peacing out We all have our survival Imagine if Ginsberg's Howl were written by a queer Native American man with a wicked sense of humor. That's Junk, and it is everything. Tommy Pico presents a string of thoughts and anecdotes into one compelling long-form poem made of couplets. One minute I'm laughing at lines like “I’m writing a // sitcom about butts and counting called Number Two The tag- / line is ‘turn the other cheek’” and the next I’m left speechless with others like “I’m an expert at // peacing out We all have our survival strategies growing up on / the rez America’s first POW camps In a way I’m indebted to // dissociation.” Pico floats seamlessly back and forth between funny and profound in this junkyard poem full of pithy treasures. As someone personally wrestling with how much physical and mental "junk" to lug through my life, I loved how often this topic popped up throughout the book, tying it all together. Pico dignifies junk, because “Junk has the best stories." I loved the lines: "To ascribe / victimhood to Junk is to miss the point completely There's a // calm outside the anxiety of utility." I also love the bits where he pokes fun at Marie Kondo:Everyone is reading The Life-ChangingMagic of Tidying Up--basically an anti-junk manifesto but ithas a point You should be accountable to what you touch"The poem is full of motifs about sexuality, indigenous heritage, and disassociation, but Pico also weaves in countless other timely cultural themes. There are jokes and jabs about politics, dating apps, and "content creators," alongside mentions of border issues, police brutality, and poverty. In the end, Junk manages to be both incredibly personal and universal. All the best poems are.Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC via Edelweiss!
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  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    (3.5) Junk food, junk shops, junk mail; junk as in random stuff; junk as in genitals. These are the major elements of Pico’s run-on, stream-of-consciousness poem, the third in his Teebs trilogy after Nature Poem. The overarching theme is being a homosexual Native American in Brooklyn. You might think of Pico as a latter-day Ginsberg. The text-speak and sexual explicitness might ordinarily be off-putting for me, but there’s something about Pico’s voice that I really like. He vacillates between (3.5) Junk food, junk shops, junk mail; junk as in random stuff; junk as in genitals. These are the major elements of Pico’s run-on, stream-of-consciousness poem, the third in his Teebs trilogy after Nature Poem. The overarching theme is being a homosexual Native American in Brooklyn. You might think of Pico as a latter-day Ginsberg. The text-speak and sexual explicitness might ordinarily be off-putting for me, but there’s something about Pico’s voice that I really like. He vacillates between flippant and heartfelt in a way that seems to capture something about the modern condition. I need to go back to his first book, IRL, and I’ll keep following his career. (Out on May 8th.)Sample lines:“the lights go low across the / multiplex Temple of // canoodling and Junk food”“I’ve always wondered // why ppl use religion to justify their / prejudices cos shouldn’t yr / religion be challenging you to undo them?”“I’m a basic butterfingers when it comes to / affection, it keeps / slipping out of my paws”“Haven’t figured out how to be NDN and not have / suspicion coursing thru me like cortisol”
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  • Anita
    January 1, 1970
    oftentimes i say things like 'im garbage' and/or 'im trash' and/or 'why am i stupid' and this book is that but he says it and he's proud of his abjection and this is the type of Junk-ie (HA) that i guess i can only aspire to be (Top Grade Trash!)check"I suppose Junk is also a way of not letting go—containing the stasis We cd potentially be alive our whole life How to be Junk and decisive I have this way of saying “bus” so that it rhymes with “moose” when I want to be festive As in Gtg or I’m oftentimes i say things like 'im garbage' and/or 'im trash' and/or 'why am i stupid' and this book is that but he says it and he's proud of his abjection and this is the type of Junk-ie (HA) that i guess i can only aspire to be (Top Grade Trash!)check"I suppose Junk is also a way of not letting go—containing the stasis We cd potentially be alive our whole life How to be Junk and decisive I have this way of saying “bus” so that it rhymes with “moose” when I want to be festive As in Gtg or I’m gonna miss my boose I claw for reasons to live lol and find them"it"“I feel you” I keep saying amid a burst of incoherent language, language bein the thing that we pour, molten n cool and use and chip and melt down n I dunno what to say when my date blabs reading is boring That he’d never finished a book b4 bc words don’t grab him/his attention I wanted to say “attention is a resource, the groundwater Condensation The band of elemental scar tissue protects us from solar wind Like a joint passed back and forth until it singes our lips—You gotta grab each other” But that’s some hero shit Maybe reading is boring?"
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  • Sandy
    January 1, 1970
    I really love Tommy. It’s so refreshing to enjoy “poetry” again! I didn’t like this as much as Nature Poem or IRL but I still loved it. I know it’s annoying to compare artists to those before them, but I instantly loved tommy’s writing because it reads like a current day, gay beat poet but with less alcohol and drugs and more anal sex and texting.
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  • Lauren
    January 1, 1970
    Content is great as always but I really didn’t like the couplet-style structure of this as compared to his earlier works.
  • C. Varn
    January 1, 1970
    Pico's Teebs trilogy of book-length poems concludes with Junk, a paean to a break-up and to all that one loves that may not be entirely good for you. Pico's style here has changed: he uses longer lines than in his other two b00k-length poems made up of highly enjambed couplets. Pico maintains the stream-of-consciousness writing mixing textspeak, slang, and his general manic lyricism, but the change in the form actually does affect the reading. Junk's couplet's read like status updates instead of Pico's Teebs trilogy of book-length poems concludes with Junk, a paean to a break-up and to all that one loves that may not be entirely good for you. Pico's style here has changed: he uses longer lines than in his other two b00k-length poems made up of highly enjambed couplets. Pico maintains the stream-of-consciousness writing mixing textspeak, slang, and his general manic lyricism, but the change in the form actually does affect the reading. Junk's couplet's read like status updates instead of texts and blog ruminations that worked through his other two poems. He also concludes his panoply of pop cultural references, jokes, in-jokes, musing on identity, and ruminations of grief. Pico's gift from moving from the flippant to the utterly sincere shines here, and the theme of loss allows a slightly more mature sensibility to emerge from the prior two books. Many will feel like this invokes the Beats, particularly Ginsberg, and, for good and ill, it does, but ultimately, Pico's trilogy is a triumph that manages to be immediately contemporary and yet I can see myself reading in two decades.
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  • Samantha
    January 1, 1970
    "The battle of control is in learning to make, and giving it up"I love that Tommy Pico's collections exist, if only because they're a great reminder of what poetry can be - punk-rock, meandering, anti-capitalist, pop culture love fests that aren't slaves to a more academic style. There's structure to this book-length poem entirely in couplets, but it's a structure that plays by its own rules, and while I think it's hard to pull this kind of poetry off successfully, JUNK is a rich, engaging, "The battle of control is in learning to make, and giving it up"I love that Tommy Pico's collections exist, if only because they're a great reminder of what poetry can be - punk-rock, meandering, anti-capitalist, pop culture love fests that aren't slaves to a more academic style. There's structure to this book-length poem entirely in couplets, but it's a structure that plays by its own rules, and while I think it's hard to pull this kind of poetry off successfully, JUNK is a rich, engaging, layered work that stands apart from the Beat poetry it will inevitably (and perhaps unjustifiably) be compared to. Worth coming back to more than once.
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  • Bogi Takács
    January 1, 1970
    This was awesome, he continues to be one of my favorite contemporary poets.Source of the book: Lawrence Public Library
  • Kevin
    January 1, 1970
    A breathless rush of sex, scattershot jokes, and topical anger. Pico weaves it all together like no one else writing right now. If you get a chance to see him read, check it out. He's one of the best I've seen--the emotional shifts, the voices, the unpredictable pacing, etc. More art than slam. More winking than spoonfeeding. He really delivers something fresh and entertains while doing so.
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  • Jackie
    January 1, 1970
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - me, reading this entire book, deeply fucked up about it! dark, very funny, very sweet, heart entirely ripped open. one of the most genuine works i’ve read about this time we’re living in.
  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    Well I absolutely adored Nature Poem (it was one of my favorite collections last year), but unfortunately this one did not live up to my expectations. It felt way more unfocused and the structure here (couplets) didn’t work for me.
  • Jared Levine
    January 1, 1970
    Idk. Nature poem was better than this. And IRL was better than that. Seemed like a bunch of the same tricks but with less affect. To me. Rated it a three but only because Tommy is a favorite of mine.
  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    A few good lines but it mostly felt like stream of consciousness ramblings that went all over the place.
  • Craig Werner
    January 1, 1970
    Given that Pico writes from a gay Native American digital universe Janet Jackson fanatic standpoint, and that the only one of those I share even sort of is the love of Control and Rhythm Nation, it's slightly strange that I love Pico's poetry as much as I do. Junk completes what the jacket calls a trilogy and it probably makes sense to read IRL and Nature Poem first, but what's emerging is something like Allen Ginsberg's life-long song of himself in an aggravating and intermittently joyous Given that Pico writes from a gay Native American digital universe Janet Jackson fanatic standpoint, and that the only one of those I share even sort of is the love of Control and Rhythm Nation, it's slightly strange that I love Pico's poetry as much as I do. Junk completes what the jacket calls a trilogy and it probably makes sense to read IRL and Nature Poem first, but what's emerging is something like Allen Ginsberg's life-long song of himself in an aggravating and intermittently joyous world. I read Junk in two sittings--one marathon--and if you have the option and endurance, I'd recommend reading it in a single go since the circlings of mind and line hold the dozens of strands together in a funny vernacular jazzy tapestry.Some of the lines that jumped (though I'm guessing the list will be very different every time): I will stop writing abt theconflict of my body when it goes away (29)There is a common misconception abt NDN ppl, namelyeverything but esp the sads (30)I/ lived in another country I had to abandon More James Baldwinthan Ernest Hemingway (31) Control is a reaction to somethingsmacking that cracks the future w/ no precedent (36) Buttered popcorn flavored jelly beansare literally the next extinction level event (56) Life, I look forward to living you completely, withall my shattered selves (57) but I'm desc-ended from a group whose culture hisgory language godscosmology calendear stories government gait was capital OObliterated I'll stop writing this when it stops happening (66)Until further notice, I'm reading everything Pico writes ('cept for the blogs because he's digital and I'm not, smile.)
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  • Solita
    January 1, 1970
    I heard Tommy Pico read a few weeks ago, when he read here in The City, promoting his latest book, Feed, the forth of a series. He's adorable, just a likeable guy. He drew a good crowd. The bookstore was packed. I read Tommy in the first place because I saw him listed as a poet who was reading here at one of my fave bookstores. I'd seen his name before, but didn't know who he was, and didn't look him up, as I tend to not trust when someone is raved about, hyped. I gotta check 'em out myself, and I heard Tommy Pico read a few weeks ago, when he read here in The City, promoting his latest book, Feed, the forth of a series. He's adorable, just a likeable guy. He drew a good crowd. The bookstore was packed. I read Tommy in the first place because I saw him listed as a poet who was reading here at one of my fave bookstores. I'd seen his name before, but didn't know who he was, and didn't look him up, as I tend to not trust when someone is raved about, hyped. I gotta check 'em out myself, and see what I think. Well, there was that name again: Tommy Pico. So, I read his bio. Liked what I read. So, I read two of his books on my Libby app, starting with Nature Poem. I was an instant fan. I bought Feed at the reading. I want the other three, have the whole series on my bookshelf of faves. I didn't want to read Feed until I read Junk. Pico isn't an easy read, but that's generally the nature of poetry. Especially when it's avant-garde, stream-of-consciousness, and in the vernacular--and today that means using "text-speak" (txtspk). But a careful read and you get his intelligence, his political awareness, his sardonic humor and wit, his sensitivity, his insecurity, his grief, his fear, his heart. He gets deep and serious, wrenches the heart, then takes a 180, and makes you laugh. His titles, I have to say, are all perfect. He knows how to carry a theme, and work it with brilliance. And he's hip and cool. I love this poet.
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  • Andy Oram
    January 1, 1970
    In unique, broad, bold language Pico throws addiction, his life as bisexual, and Kumeyaay Native American status--all concerning people he calls "garbage of the state"--into a book-length single piece of stream-of-consciousness. Washing down in this flood, with contemporary cultural references and abbreviations that mimic online postings, pop out short, coherent declarations, including political commentary and artistic statements--but also touching philosophy.Junk can be mental blockage, sex In unique, broad, bold language Pico throws addiction, his life as bisexual, and Kumeyaay Native American status--all concerning people he calls "garbage of the state"--into a book-length single piece of stream-of-consciousness. Washing down in this flood, with contemporary cultural references and abbreviations that mimic online postings, pop out short, coherent declarations, including political commentary and artistic statements--but also touching philosophy.Junk can be mental blockage, sex organs (and acts that are described pretty graphically), junk food (described as graphically as the sex), drugs (occasionally), probably the whole detritus of consumer society, even junk mail. If Pico could charge food conglomerates for brand name product placement, he'd be rich. Food also intersects with Thanksgiving, a repeated theme in this book (which I happened to read just before Thanksgiving).When evaluating literature and poetry, I give extra points to authors who take absurd risks and pull them off through enormous talent--and Pico wins my endorsement in this book. Don't miss out on the humor, too.
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  • Harper Miller
    January 1, 1970
    Hands down one of the best books I've read this year. Poetry is so my jam. I'd heard about Tommy Pico on Twitter and decided to give his book Junk a go. Talk about a slice of New York. I looooved it! It made me smile. It made me laugh. Hell, there were even parts that made me tear up. This one is definitely going into the favorites pile.
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  • Ian
    January 1, 1970
    Will write a review on Feed after reading the whole cycle.
  • Max Urai
    January 1, 1970
    This book is just gorgeous
  • Siobhan
    January 1, 1970
    Omg wow wow wow just wow wow wow
  • pinarnar
    January 1, 1970
    I want to read this again for the first time forever.
  • Lindsey
    January 1, 1970
    Complicated thoughts about accumulation & value & love & dissociation & class & snax & lust & queerness. We are living in a golden age of poetry & this collection is the precise shade of light filtered through a Funyun & a breakup & a joke about Hart Crane.
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  • Hillary
    January 1, 1970
    “Whose grief can piss the furthest”
  • S
    January 1, 1970
    “I used to read a lot of perfect poems, now I read a lot of Garbage" (wait for it)"by A. R. Ammons"I don't really subscribe to the "the line break should create a pun" school, but in this case, even the pun doesn't work because the capitalization tips it off. It's also not clear to me what the connection between AR Ammons' work and this is, and the book doesn't focus on this or unpack this moment and just moves on to whatever seems to be on the speaker's mind.A lot of the times, the speaker will “I used to read a lot of perfect poems, now I read a lot of Garbage" (wait for it)"by A. R. Ammons"I don't really subscribe to the "the line break should create a pun" school, but in this case, even the pun doesn't work because the capitalization tips it off. It's also not clear to me what the connection between AR Ammons' work and this is, and the book doesn't focus on this or unpack this moment and just moves on to whatever seems to be on the speaker's mind.A lot of the times, the speaker will just kind of tell you what they mean in a line: “Last night i had a dream that I was a ghost who gave blowjobs and that is pretty much the experience of dating in the city”—it's like, yeah, that's ones of the themes of the poem/book and the image does most of the work already.“Agreed. A greed. Aahhh. Greed.” Amen. Aaaahhh men. Aggh! Men!“I’m going to be so sad when Aretha Franklin dies.” gets its own own page
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  • Jaime Fountaine
    January 1, 1970
    We probably do not deserve Tommy Pico, and JUNK is further proof of this.
  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    We don't say "boysenberry" enough, as a species--And the whole block knows / when I stub my toe It sounds like this: UUUUUUGGGGGHHHI am in PHYSICAL PAIN.
  • Brian Park
    January 1, 1970
    Like "IRL" except too much like "IRL" without the substance. It's about junk, and it is junk. Don't recommend.
  • Allie N.
    January 1, 1970
    I. Don't. Care.
  • James
    January 1, 1970
    My only gripe is that it seemed too formally indebted to Ammons' Garbage. But it totally distinguishes itself from that book with its voice and sense of humor. Here's a passage I particularly loved, which has an ars-poetica-ness to it: My bff says poets are the stewards of languageand being a stew-stew of lang-lang, I came up with a new word:sleeding, which is the body sleeping and bleeding I mean there'shearts on my pillow Literally I got a tattoo last night, on myshoulder of heartsWhat I loved My only gripe is that it seemed too formally indebted to Ammons' Garbage. But it totally distinguishes itself from that book with its voice and sense of humor. Here's a passage I particularly loved, which has an ars-poetica-ness to it: My bff says poets are the stewards of languageand being a stew-stew of lang-lang, I came up with a new word:sleeding, which is the body sleeping and bleeding I mean there'shearts on my pillow Literally I got a tattoo last night, on myshoulder of heartsWhat I loved initially about this was the cutesy, boyish, slightly Clockwork Orangey "stew-stew of lang-lang" as a response to the noble but stilted "stewards" line. Rereading it now, I'm taken by the little touch of the missing comma in "shoulder[,] of hearts" and how this plays with the bleeding mentioned previously. There's all sorts of fun, deft play at work in this book. A few years back, The Black Warrior Review had an art feature with photographs of medicine cabinets and junk drawers. The photos captured the simultaneous care and disarray in these small, domestic spaces. This book has the same appreciation for "the garbage ppl / keep."
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