IRL

Narrated by: Tommy Pico
Length: 1 hr and 46 mins
Categories: LGBT, Literature & Fiction
5 out of 5 stars (44 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

IRL is a sweaty summertime poem composed like a long text message, rooted in the epic tradition of A.R. Ammons, ancient Kumeyaay Bird Songs, and Beyoncé’s visual albums. It follows Teebs, a reservation-born, queer NDN weirdo, trying to figure out his impulses/desires/history in the midst of Brooklyn rooftops, privacy in the age of the Internet, street harassment, suicide, boys boys boys, literature, colonialism, religion, leaving one's 20s, and a love/hate relationship with English. He’s plagued by an indecision, unsure of which obsessions, attractions, and impulses are essentially his, and which are the result of Christian conversion, hetero-patriarchal/colonialist white supremacy, homophobia, Bacardi, gummy candy, and not getting laid. 

IRL asks, what happens to a modern, queer indigenous person a few generations after his ancestors were alienated from their language, their religion, and their history? Teebs feels compelled towards “boys, burgers, booze”, though he begins to suspect there is perhaps a more ancient goddess calling to him behind art, behind music, behind poetry.

©2016 Birds, LLC (P)2018 Birds, LLC

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Wow wow wow

I am speechless at the moment. I’ll write more on how great this is later.

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native american queer power

intersectional poems that spoke deeply to me about Tommy in racist america, lots of personality

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#OwnVoices

#OwnVoices has never felt more appropriate than in this audiobook read by the author where he does not shy away from his Native American roots / culture / values or his identity as a gay man.

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Expansive, witty, incisive, vulnerable!

What did you love best about IRL?

This is a prime example of textual, thematic, and stylistic oscillation. Tommy Pico is a master. IRL is everywhere at once: cutting, hilarious, vulnerable—an exercise in the force of language, performance, and intersectionality. But, it's not aimless; this is its focus. The poem lives in multiplicity and in betweenness (academically: queer––and beautifully queer in all the ways).This is not a poem for the faint of heart (or for people who want to keep it together while commuting). So nebulous and dialogic! I feel like I’ve just had a relationship with this poem. It’s a space for grappling and digging. I may have cried on the train, just sayin. There’s no one way to describe such a work (nor should there be)! I’m utterly in love with IRL. It's the kind of work that leaves you breathless and unsure of what just hit you. I’m so excited for Tommy Pico's next book "Junk."

What was one of the most memorable moments of IRL?

Every moment is a most memorable moment. This poem defies easy categorization––it twists and oscillates subject and delivery so often and so deftly, I can't say what's MOST anything about it. That being said, here is one of those moments (near 1:33:00) where Tommy Pico delves into romance, the genocide of the indigenous peoples of the U.S., the oppression of binaries, religion as tool of colonization: "Is Muse good or bad /is the needless dichotomy of a foster god. [...] Literal church imposed onto the foothills of my landscape / whispering I know most of you didn't make it but it's all a part of god's plan [...] Binary is another weapon of the oppressor / justifies conquest / and is a method to ensure survivors (if they are any) will always question their worth to literally just live"

Have you listened to any of Tommy Pico’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes, on podcasts (Food 4 Thot, Cooking by Ear) and on the Poetry Foundation's website. It's every bit as good, though on podcasts, it will naturally feel more impromptu.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

YES! Absolutely, yes.

Any additional comments?

As always with poetry, I feel grateful to have heard this read by its author, especially one so skilled at performance as Tommy Pico.

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Tommy Pico is awesome

So I used to hate poetry because the only poems i ever read were either written 500 years ago, or had no underlying meaning, but Tommy's poems are different. They make me laugh and cry at the same time... and I never cry.

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Phenomenal

So wonderful to hear Teebs read his own work. Will listen to this over and over to let it sink it. This is a powerful epic poem that looks at race, class, sexuality, and many other topics with grace, humor and realness. Such an awesome work.

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  • Adam
  • 09-07-19

Flawed but Special

Tommy's first in a line of now four epic poems. A book that is definitely worth your attention. The writing is at times times hyper-lucid, crisp, incisive and insightful. At other moments rushed, harried, scattershot, incoherent, tonally/linguistically jarring. The writing is more consistent and coherent than it isn't, but is somewhat hampered by Tommy's performance, which again, is still finding it's feet in this format.

At times full of personality, at times he throws away his lines, leaves no breath, catapults you between ideas and moments that require more time to digest. One might argue that this is Tommy's intention - but given what is happening textually in these moments, I would argue not, as it does not serve to build an atmosphere that props up textual happenings like, say, Whitelaw's performance of Not I.

A text that is perhaps better read than listened to, based on this recording.

The story is fly-on-the-wall exploration of the intersection between queerness and Tommy's identity as a native american from the kumeyaay nation. The parallel is important and interesting. The way this intersection plays out in Tommy's psychology is central to the text and for sure something that could be revisited.

Give it a listen.