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Native American poet, Tommy Pico to share creativity with students, faculty


Tommy Pico, author and guest speaker for the Native Craft Reading Series, will be giving his reading on Friday at in 311 Denney Hall. Credit: Niqui Carter

Students and faculty have one last opportunity this semester to attend the Native Craft Reading Series, an event that brings Native American writers to Ohio State to read and discuss their work.

The MFA program in creative writing is hosting the event at 4 p.m.  Friday in 311 Denney Hall where Tommy Pico, a poet from the Viejas Indian Reservation of the Kumeyaay nation, will be performing.

Pico is the founder and editor-in-chief of Birdsong, an antiracist and queer-positive collective, small press and magazine that publishes art and writing. He also is the author of books “IRL,” published by Birds, LLC, and “Nature Poem,” published by Tin House.

Elissa Washuta ––  an assistant professor in creative writing, creator of the series and member of the Indian Cowlitz Tribe — said she intends for the event to be useful and appealing to non-native MFA students and undergraduate creative writing students, as well as the native community here on campus.

“I wanted to bring in writers to this series who I know pay a lot of attention to their craft, and Tommy is one of them,” said Washuta. “I know that he can make a contribution to the MFA program by sharing his perspective on poetics and on craft.”

Melissa Beard Jacob, adviser of student organization Native American Indigenous Peoples Cohort and member of Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, said she is looking forward to attending Pico’s reading because it is an opportunity to see one of many Native American writers and increase visibility of an indigenous presence at Ohio State.

“I’m extremely excited that Tommy will be coming to OSU for a reading this month… Tommy really captures the attention of the audience through his performance,” said Jacob.

The MFA program in creative writing hopes to continue the Native Craft Reading Series with two more Native American writers next year. Until then, Washuta said she hopes those who attend will enjoy the dynamics that Pico brings to the stage.

Admission is free and open to all. Books will be available for purchase.

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