APL Book Club at Laguna Gloria

Our With Liberty and Justice for All Book Club is back! Co-hosted by The Austin Public Library and The Contemporary Austin, the With Liberty and Justice for All Book Club is dedicated to the discussion of selected works of fiction, poetry, or visual art that consider themes of racism, institutional violence, social justice, empathy, healing, and community.

This month, join us at our outdoor sculpture park, Laguna Gloria, where you can explore art in nature and gather for discussion around this month’s book, Nature Poem by Tommy Pico.

Nature Poem follows Teebs, a young, queer American Indian (or NDN) poet who can’t bring himself to write a nature poem. The exercise feels stereotypical, reductive, and boring for this reservation-born, city-dwelling hipster. While he’s adamant about his distaste for the word natural, throughout the book we see him begin to confront the assimilationist, historical, colonial-white ideas that collude NDN people with nature. Stereotypically identifying his people with the natural world, he figures, makes it easier to mow them down like the underbrush. But Teebs gradually learns how to interpret constellations through his own lens, as well as human nature, sexuality, language, music, and Twitter. Even as he reckons with manifest destiny, genocide, and centuries of disenfranchisement, he learns how to have faith in his own voice.

Justin Betancourt has worked as a Library Associate at Austin Public Library’s Windsor Park Branch since late 2021. His role at the library includes supporting the collection, assisting patrons, and implementing community-based programming. He respects the role of the library in the community and hopes to continue contributing to it for years to come.

Meghan Otoupalik is a Library Associate at Austin Public Library’s Windsor Park Branch. She is pursuing a Master’s in Library and Information Sciences at Texas Woman’s University. Working at Austin Public Library paralleled her academic and personal interests in history, film, gender studies, bicycling, and, of course, books and reading.