An NPR Best Book of the Year
From 2018 Whiting Award winner Tommy Pico, Junk is a book-length break-up poem that explores the experience of loss and erasure, both personal and cultural.
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 is a true American odyssey, complete with a reluctant hero who defies all odds to survive. Repulsed by the trashiness of empire, the violence of occupation, this book nonetheless searches in earnest for real tenderness, a romance that isn’t corny. . . . This is poetry of the highest order, on the level of a pop song, with the crystalline visions of a seer. I consumed it greedily, repeatedly, and am forever changed because of it.
—Jenny Zhang, author of SOUR HEART
is the master of making the stone stony, of 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, author of CALLING A WOLF A WOLF
Tommy Pico’s complex and lush third collection, Junk, explodes, rewinds, meditates, and explodes again. It binges and purges—on class, identity, sex, politics, snacks, comfort, and fear. . . . Pico is a master of inclusion, of elevating the mundane to the sublime, of examining absurdity and grave seriousness with equal measure. This is an ambitious long poem, and Pico is uniquely qualified to both drag and celebrate modern day consumption and indulgence with graceful humor and grit.
—Morgan Parker, author of THERE ARE MORE BEAUTIFUL THINGS THAN BEYONCE