To date, this is my favorite style of poetry, something I didn’t knew I needed until Tommy came around. It’s an epic poem that reads like a memoir, but also a text conversation about creepy men in the gym/street/restaurant and trying to stay present in a harsh world and the existential dread of writing. It’s the kind of “low-brow” (ugh, that word) that is so self-aware and smart, I guarantee it’ll make you rethink what is considered “good” and “proper.” If you only read SW(W) English classics, I challenge you to take this for a spin:) plz? Here are some fave quotes: – “What if a poem was just the interpretation? / No, no. Put yr shirt back on” (68). – “To me? Apple is a NDN drag queen who dresses like a milkmaid and / sings ‘half-breed’ by Cher” (50). – “I can’t write a nature poem bc English is some Stockholm shit” (50).
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.