The Urban NDN Nature Poem in Tommy Pico’s Nature Poem


  • Andreas P. Bassett University of Washingtton




The running gag throughout Tommy Pico’s Nature Poem (2017) is that Teebs—Pico’s fictional alter ego—cannot write a traditional American Indian nature poem. This essay contends that, despite the absence of nature poetry in Nature Poem, Teebs presents an alternative take on a nature poem on pages 32–33. This untitled poem, which I refer to as “Death Poem” for the sake of convenience, consists entirely of multimedia excerpts from American television commercials and advertisements, films, songs, and poems chopped up to mimic the fast-paced, sensory-overloaded, and discombobulating features of the digital urban environment. Moreover, in this intertextual mélange, a “#death” hashtag flanks the end of each line, evoking an ominous mood. At first glance, Teebs’ bricolage poem presents a dark, hectic image of digital realms and the urban NDN experience within it. Nevertheless, this essay reveals that more sanguine interpretations lie beneath the poem’s critical surface when each line’s source, context, and cultural significance are decoded. More specifically, I believe Teebs’ invocation of prominent Black musicians in the final segment of the poem inadvertently coalesces historical Black resilience with NDN urbanization in the digital age. Ultimately, this essay argues that, through the aid of Black music, the untitled poem on pages 32–33 of Pico’s Nature Poem can be viewed as a reimaginative world- and -future-building exercise that presents new forward momentum and possibilities of meaning for a distressed Teebs—and, perhaps, by extension, the general urban NDN population—in digital landscapes.

Author Biography

Andreas P. Bassett, University of Washingtton

Andreas P. Bassett is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at the University of Washington, where he studies early modern literature and book history. His specific research interests include Elizabethan and Jacobean drama and the print industry of early modern London. Andreas holds an MA in English and Textual and Digital Studies certificate from the University of Washington, and a BA in English from Portland State University.




How to Cite

Bassett, A. P. (2024). “#Death”: The Urban NDN Nature Poem in Tommy Pico’s Nature Poem. Transmotion, 9(1&2), 18–46. https://doi.org/10.22024/UniKent/03/tm.1132