“You Can’t Be an NDN in Today’s World:”
Tommy Pico’s Queer NDN Epic Poems
Kumeyaay writer Tommy Pico's four books of poetry are described as epics, a usually masculinist and heteropatriarchal genre. Although there is a queer part of American epics, Pico rejects slotting himself too easily into the epic because they are integral to the founding or originary literary land claims of countries to justify empire. Pico’s epics are Indigenous and queer, meaning his poems don’t conveniently fit into the western epic tradition. He asserts his presence as a queer NDN, daring the reader / audience / literary establishment to deny that the stories of a queer NDN are of great national importance. Instead, he creates new Kumeyaay bird songs, epic sung travelogues of how the Kumeyaay people came to be as a queer urban NDN.
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