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Kate Durbin in Conversation at BOMB
BOMB’s Gabriela Jauregui speaks with poet and fashion-icon Kate Durbin about her new book, E! Entertainment: out now from Wonder. We look forward to reading Durbin’s book after reading this dialogue!
Kate Durbin and I sat together to gossip and eat pink food on her pink leather sofa—the only fit way to celebrate the publication of her most recent book, E! Entertainment, which was printed on pink paper. She wore a pink angora sweater (she’s always a little cold) and I wore a pink Lycra jumpsuit (and was therefore too hot). We had fish eggs, salmon, radishes, wild strawberries, Pink Lady apple tart with blush crème fraîche, and a dry rosé wine while we discussed the best shade of nail polish (powder rose) as well as writing and process. In the background the television set was muted and I could see flashes of a gemstone infomercial.
Gabriela Jauregui: What made you want to write this book? In a way, the topics you touch on are terra incognita in literature in general, not to mention poetry, and they are a departure from your earlier works.
Kate Durbin: I love the idea of popular culture as terra incognita—it hides in plain sight. The seeds of E! are in my first book, The Ravenous Audience, with its focus on Hollywood screen ciphers and sirens, and, of course, the ekphrastic poems based on Breillat’s films. With Ravenous, I was watching the silver screen from my blue velvet couch; with E! I wanted to climb inside the television set, but not to go “behind the scenes.” I didn’t want the E! True Hollywood Story; I wanted the meta-reality of the trashiest of television, the reality-television shows. I wanted to meditate inside them, and make them into literature. E! is a truly experimental text, in that I didn’t know what the results would be. I only knew the process and was committed to seeing it through. I intuitively selected shows that seemed rich with social and political significance, shows having to do with female friendships, courtship rituals, glamour, bling, harassed starlets like Lindsay Lohan and Anna Nicole Smith. Shows and women that are dismissed as cultural garbage, not worthy of the novelist’s pen, unless they’re being derided—though I think Flaubert and Shakespeare would have been into it. [...]
Learn more after this jump, at BOMB!