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Erica Dawson and Tommy Pico

Event date: 
Wednesday, November 7, 2018 - 7:30pm to 9:00pm

Erica Dawson headshot combined with When Rap Spoke straight to god book cover black background with gold text

Join Charis in welcoming poets Erica Dawson and Tommy Pico! The suggested donation is $5 but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. 

When Rap Spoke Straight to God is a book-length poem navigating belief, black lives, the tragedies of Trump, and the boundaries of being a woman.

When Rap Spoke Straight to God isn’t sacred or profane, but a chorus joined in a single soliloquy, demanding to be heard. There’s Wu-Tang and Mary Magdelene with a foot fetish, Lil’ Kim and a self-loving Lilith. Slurs, catcalls, verses, erasures. Both grounded and transcendent, the book is reality and possibility. Dawson’s work has always been raw; but, in When Rap Spoke Straight to God, Dawson doesn’t flinch.  A mix of traditional forms where sonnets mash up with sestinas morphing to heroic couplets, When Rap Spoke Straight to God insists that while you may recognize parts of the poem’s world, you can’t anticipate how it will evolve.   With a literal exodus of light in the book’s final moments, When Rap Spoke Straight to God is a lament for and a celebration of blackness.  It’s never depression; it’s defiance―a persistent resistance. In this book, like Wu-Tang says, the marginalized “ain’t nothing to f--- with.”

Tommy Pico Headshot in black and white on left with color cover of Junk on Right Mixed Media design

From 2018 Whiting Award winner Tommy Pico, Junk is a book-length break-up poem that explores the experience of loss and erasure, both personal and cultural.

The third book in Tommy Pico’s Teebs trilogy, Junk is a breakup poem in couplets: ice floe and hot lava, a tribute to Janet Jackson and nacho cheese. In the static that follows the loss of a job or an apartment or a boyfriend, what can you grab onto for orientation? The narrator wonders what happens to the sense of self when the illusion of security has been stripped away. And for an indigenous person, how do these lost markers of identity echo larger cultural losses and erasures in a changing political landscape? In part taking its cue from A.R. Ammons’s Garbage, Teebs names this liminal space “Junk,” in the sense that a junk shop is full of old things waiting for their next use; different items that collectively become indistinct. But can there be a comfort outside the anxiety of utility? An appreciation of “being” for the sake of being? And will there be Chili Cheese Fritos?

Event address: 
1189 Euclid Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30307
When Rap Spoke Straight to God Cover Image
$14.36
ISBN: 9781947793033
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tin House Books - September 18th, 2018

When Rap Spoke Straight to God isn't sacred or profane, but a chorus joined in a single soliloquy, demanding to be heard. There's Wu-Tang and Mary Magdelene with a foot fetish, Lil' Kim and a self-loving Lilith. Slurs, catcalls, verses, erasures--Dawson asks readers, "Just how far is it to nigger?" Both grounded and transcendent, the book is reality and possibility.


Junk Cover Image
$14.36
ISBN: 9781941040973
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tin House Books - May 8th, 2018

Irl Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780991429868
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Birds - September 2016

Poetry. Native American Studies. LGBT Studies. IRL is a sweaty, summertime poem composed like a long text message, rooted in the epic tradition of A.R. Ammons, ancient Kumeyaay Bird Songs, and Beyonce's visual albums.


Nature Poem Cover Image
$13.46
ISBN: 9781941040638
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tin House Books - May 9th, 2017

Nature Poem follows Teebs--a young, queer, American Indian (or NDN) poet--who can't bring himself to write a nature poem. For the reservation-born, urban-dwelling hipster, the exercise feels stereotypical, reductive, and boring. He hates nature. He prefers city lights to the night sky. He'd slap a tree across the face.


The Small Blades Hurt Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9781939574046
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Measure Press Inc. - December 6th, 2013

In The Small Blades Hurt, Erica Dawson picks up where her debut collection, Big-Eyed Afraid, leaves off: "The world's outside. I'm in." She moves from her border state Maryland to the true South, the Midwest, and back, delivering poems where a single dance's story can tangle with America's collective past.