Hosted by Ryerson’s LitMod program and the Department of English, this fall’s Distinguished Speaker Series featured Tommy Pico, a lively and dramatic figure who entered the room wearing a “Who’s Yeti to Party” shirt and a hat with the word “QUEEN” written across it. The title of his lecture, F*CK WRITER’S BLOCK, was decided under pressure and completely last minute. His answer on how to get over writer’s block was simple and eloquently put: just write it! Put your butt in that chair and just do it. The inspiration for writing is writing. From Monday to Thursday write everything (stream of consciousness style); on Friday, edit 80% out of what you wrote; Saturday and Sunday, go out and experience the world!
Tommy says these inspirational words while yelling, singing, and telling a lot of dirty jokes.
But this isn’t the only thing he discussed during his pseudo ‘lecture.’ The main topic was actually Indigenous rights, literature, and truth. So why has this amazing man written four books in four years? The average age of death on the reservation he grew up in (and still lives) is 40.7 years. At 35, he’s only got a short amount of time to fulfil his dreams and write as much as possible before his existence is averaged out.
Tommy’s passion, use of repetition, and tone made for an exciting and lively lecture. As a very busy LitMod student, I found the event to be an amazing and informative break from my regularly scheduled assignments and readings. Tommy Pico isn’t an expert or a teacher, but he likes it that way—he doesn’t want the expectations and responsibility of being one of the unfortunately few Indigenous cultural icons in pop culture. However, because he’s in the spotlight, he’s going to do what he has to do to share it with his cohorts, so that the Indigenous can take back their legacy of survival and be in charge of their own definition.
(From November 12, 2019)