Peach Picks: This Week's Literary Picks

by / Apr. 5, 2017 12am EST


“Is literature necessary?” asked Edna O’Brien to a packed Kleinhans Music Hall at the third installment of Just Buffalo Literary Center’s 2016-17 BABEL season. She quickly answered her own question, though, and with passion: “Yes, yes, yes!” What followed was an incredible 90-minute lecture in which O’Brien wove details of her own writing career with points made by James Joyce, Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou, and others. Throughout her career and life, O’Brien described how her passion for writing has thrived on conflict, and that when she herself wasn’t reading, she felt an emptiness that could only be satisfied by literature. In her words, the absence of literature is the “death of memory.” At 87 years old, she amazed the crowd with poignant argument and subtle digs at the establishment, suggesting that if only leaders read more, there would be less war and violence.


Nature Poem (poetry)
by Tommy Pico
Tin House Books, forthcoming 2017

Nature Poem, Tommy Pico’s epic poem forthcoming from Tin House Books, portrays the strange and beautiful struggle that Pico has with his cultural identity. Pico opens by referring to himself as a “weirdo NDN faggot,” and by insisting again and again that he cannot and will not write a poem about nature; “I can’t write a nature poem,” he writes, “bc it’s fodder for the noble savage/ narrative. I wd slap a tree across the face,/ I say to my audience.” Born on the Viejas Indian Reservation, Pico considers himself an average American—“I make quinoa n shit.” Throughout the poem he recounts several instances in which he managed to find humor while being questioned or stereotyped by a narrow-minded person. The irony of Nature Poem is that while Pico initially refused to write a poem about nature, the lyricism and metaphors about poetry and art—“to get inside / a poem has to break you”—leave the reader with the sense that something natural has indeed been achieved.


Nameless Boy​ (poetry)
by Diana Goetsch
Orchises Press, 2015

Last Wednesday, Diana Goetsch read at Canisius College for the final installment of the Spring Contemporary Writers Series. She read from her 2015 collection of poetry, Nameless Boy, a volume—or “bullshit poems,” as she calls them—that largely toys with incompetent narrators. Within these poems, which frequently center on the struggles of her transition and the realities of life as a trans woman, Goetsch exhibits a rare humor that could have the most serious of crowds doubled over laughing. In her new poem, “A Proposal,” Goetsch implores the author to never accept the ridiculousness of our president’s combover: “We can’t, for instance, look at a picture / of the exploded rooster comb he’s managed to cement up there / and say, Yeah okay that’s the president.” This contrast of dark themes against light humor make Diana Goetsch a must-read during the next four years.

“Peach Picks” is a new column of literary news and recommendations written by the editors of Peach Mag, an online literary magazine based in Buffalo, New York. For inquiries, contact the editors at