Mesmerizing Modern Poetry

These two young poets eschew convention with bold voices—and even bolder prose.

tommy picco and jake skeets
Alta Journal



• By Tommy Pico
• Tin House Books, 84 pages, $15.95

I always thought that big, epic poem-cycles like Ezra Pound’s Cantos, Thomas McGrath’s Letter to an Imaginary Friend, Jack Kerouac’s Mexico City Blues, William Carlos Williams’s Paterson, and Frank Stanford’s The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You were attempts to articulate in “real-time” the poet’s psychic “news feed,” but I’ve never had that sense so emphatically as with Tommy Pico’s Feed. Perhaps because of its showcasing of anti-academic hipster registers, configured through pop culture allusions (accompanied, of course, by a playlist). It’s a breakup poem, bicoastal queer POC experience declaimed from the High Line, interpolated in an Eleni Sikelianos/Juan Felipe Herrera flow.

—Sesshu Foster



• By Jake Skeets
• Milkweed Editions, 96 pages, $16

Jake Skeets’s Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers is marked by a sublime and mournful rupturing. The collection interrogates masculinity; positions queerness amid the ricegrass, snakeweed, and sandbur; and establishes an indelible lexicon with dynamic turns of phrase like “my pelvis daises as he chants my body back to weeds.” The rupturing occurs in laccoliths and diatremes, earthly transformations used as metaphors. The poem “Maar” invokes a volcanic crater; it (exquisitely) follows one called “Virginity” in which Skeets writes, “He bodies into me.” The book blooms beautiful, “glitterblack,” both ossuary and lifeblood. 

—Wendy C. Ortiz

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