december spotlight: poet — natalie tombasco

Posted on Fri, Mar 22, 2024

Natalie Louise Tombasco is a poet from Staten Island, NY. Currently, she is a PhD candidate at Florida State University and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Southeast Review. Recent work can be found in Best New Poets, Verse Daily, Gulf Coast, Black Warrior Review, Diode Poetry Journal, Copper Nickel, and The Cincinnati Review, among others. Her debut collection MILK FOR GALL has been selected as the winner of the 2023 Michael Waters Poetry Prize and will be published in Fall 2024 by Southern Indiana Review. Find out more at

Twitter & Instagram: @gnatalielouise

december: Can you tell us a little bit about the origins of these poems?

Natalie: “Out of the Fluorescent Woods” began as a riff on Dante’s Inferno’s opening lines but instead of being lost in “forest dark,” my speaker leaves behind the buzzing lights of an office hellscape for the domestic sphere and copes with a disenchanted graduate student existence. I’d say this one and “Allow Me to Construct a Time-Step” are companion poems; they sort through workplace bureaucracy, anxieties about climate destruction, and what role reality television serves for so many Americans. I engage with the Real Housewives franchise and consider it as a “guilty pleasure.” Of course, it’s partly interrogation as well since the speaker finds a distorted version of gender and class. It’s like the moment the Bravo jingle starts, I get that little dopamine hit and there’s no pressure to be “academic,” but then again, I do feel like Jane Goodall watching it — thinking what would Judith Butler say about Lisa Vanderpump?

december: What’s next for you?

Natalie: My debut poetry collection will be published in the fall with Southern Indiana Review Press!