Author Tommy Pico’s Debut Work ‘IRL’ Will Have You Like OMG

Image courtesy of Birds, LLC

The writer tells us all about his book

The following feature appears in the September 2016 issue of NYLON.

Ever get a text in the middle of the night from a hookup and only consider going if they have air conditioning? Brooklyn-based writer Tommy Pico can relate. Pico, originally from the Viejas Indian reservation of the Kumeyaay nation, is the founder and editor-in-chief of the antiracist/queer-positive collective birdsong. His debut book, IRL, a poem structured like a long-form text message, comes out this month. IRL chronicles the journey of Teebs, who is simultaneously trying to reconcile his past while attempting to enjoy the present. I sat down with Pico to discuss the making of a contemporary long-form poem.

Teebs, IRL’s protagonist, shares a name with your personal Tumblr page (Hey, Teebs!). Where does Tommy end and Teebs begin? 
I don’t think if I wrote as myself I would get very much done. The persona of Teebs allows me to be who I am, but at a multiple of 10. Teebs is me but 10 times sadder, 10 times happier, 10 times messier, hungrier, and more fucked up. 

How else would you characterize Teebs? 
He’s a person who is trying to reclaim his indigenous spirituality, and though it’s been taken from him he doesn’t know how to get it back, so he finds himself indulging in [the poem’s refrain of] “boys, burgers, booze,” which are very superficial ways of finding emotional satisfaction. 

What is your writing process like?
Monday through Thursday it’s sitting down and writing, and my rule is that I can’t stop. Friday is the day I go back and look at everything, type things up, cut things out, and put things together. 

How did you decide where line breaks and scene breaks would occur? 
I made the line breaks somewhat unexpected, as I want the person who is submitting themselves to the world of the poem to feel like anything can happen. As an indigenous person living in modern, occupied America, sometimes things do feel arbitrary, and I wanted the text to reflect that. I showed scene breaks using three dots, thinking of texting, when someone’s typing and the dots appear because the message hasn’t sent yet. 

There seems to be an important connection between past and present in the book.
Everything in the book is in present tense. There’s no past tense because the English language is a colonial legacy in the way in which it has absorbed the languages of the people that it’s conquered. English itself is like a living history of colonialism, so when we’re using these words we are living with the past as well. 

Order IRL here.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

While she wished Tana Mongeau a happy birthday on one account, her other one paints a different picture

If you're in YouTube and influencer culture as deep as the rest of the internet, you already know that Tana Mongeau and Jake Paul got engaged yesterday. How does Mongeau's ex, actress Bella Thorne, feel about the situation? According to her official Instagram account, she's totally supportive of her. But, as is usually the case, her (what I call) Finsta tells the more realistic story.

Keep reading... Show less
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris / Neilson Barnard / Getty Images.

"And then she cried the white girl cry"

I'm not sure I'd even call the ongoing spat between Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus a beef. We've seen Minaj in real beef, like her ongoing feud with Cardi B that culminated in some major Fashion Week drama. But even though things aren't that level between Minaj and Cyrus, things are still definitely not okay.

Keep reading... Show less


Amanda Bynes has just graduated with the Class of 2019 from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. Late Monday evening, Bynes shared a photo to Twitter celebrating the achievement, posing alongside a classmate in her cap and gown.

TMZ shared additional selfies with fellow classmates from the graduation ceremony. Sources told TMZ that Bynes seemed "ecstatic," and that she was "getting tons of love from her teachers and peers."

The actress has been enrolled at the school since 2014, though, as Page Six notes, was kicked out for a short period of time toward the beginning of her studies, but returned and completed her program within five years.

In March of this year, Bynes checked into a mental health facility after an alleged relapse, following four years of sobriety. Prior to that, she had returned to the public in late 2018 with an interview with Paper in which she opened up about her experience with depression after the release of She's The Man, as well as her drug use.

Asset 7
Screenshot via YouTube

Welcome to the family!

Taylor Swift has filed a trademark for her newest cat, Benjamin Button, which she adopted during the filming of her "ME!" music video.

Keep reading... Show less
Photo by Lars Niki/Getty Images for POPSUGAR and Reed Exhibitions

She didn't even know she had one until the show

Camila Mendes has been open about her eating disorder before, but, in a new interview during a panel at PopSugar's Play/Ground, she revealed that costume fittings for her show Riverdale were the catalyst that led her to seek treatment.

Keep reading... Show less