Andrew Durbin’s “Mature Themes” uses and interchanges the forms of poetry, essay, prose, etc. so spatially until I begin to interpret the book as sculpture. Artistically, I identify with Andrew’s impulse to gymnastically synthesize a concrete narrative with disparate and difficult unrelated processes. This way of working provides gaps to insert subversive layers and meaning that poignantly collide with subjects that seem surface, pop culture at first, but glide between carefully considered form and content. “Mature Themes” stretches the potential of what it means to recontextualize the familiar and public with the esoteric and private, repurposing the art world, Katy Perry, Ciara, Lindsay Lohan and other hot topics as vessels of introspection and insight.
paperback, 132 pages, 6 1/4 x 8 in
Publication Date: 2014
Mature Themes negatively embraces media culture in its dizzying vortex of self-reflexivity, where facts exist only as powered by dreams, and dreams are in fact, malignant intent. It's like that, like a cat chasing its tail. Durbin's incisive and often brilliant book offers pitch-perfect feedback of a culture where to go deep is to resend an unanswered text at 3 a.m.” —CHRIS KRAUS
Andrew Durbin revisits Baudelaire to ask a question: What would a critique of society look like today? Probably like the Home Shopping Network, a Justin Bieber tattoo worn by a man named Catullus #63, or the sound of an Adidas tracksuit falling. What do you get when you cross the the London riots of 2011 with a flight from PVO to SFO? Durbin's themes re-negotiates our version of artificial paradise--the sound of spleen breaking apart and evaporating into haunted graffiti. —TAN LIN
Mature Themes is very good, but Andrew Durbin is going to die alone anyway. Not because he isn’t a very good lay, but because as it turns out, this book shows us how Andrew just can’t enjoy any luxury he seeks to accumulate. Basically, Mature Themes is a musical flood of dispassion seamlessly submerged in a paranoid takeover where any notoriety turns on living the nightmare dream. Here’s the thing—as Lauren Berlant writes, “sitting with the loss of the world requires a supple affective infrastructure, or a religion." Sometimes this is music, or art, or academia, or love. Andrew prefers not to be triangulated, which means the promiscuity of his work is also something that has to stretch and move and bend through this by already knowing it’s all over. And as it turns out, for Andrew, aesthetic disinterest, waning faith, and terminal irony are not very good ways to find a nice Jewish girl or a homonormie partner. So he is probably going to die alone, but that’s OK, because who doesn't want a flirtatiously immovable attachment to an impossible position of doom? I’d hit it. I know you would. —TRISHA LOW
Affect, flatness, theory, and reality are kept in close quarters. If you have ever watched Clueless (1995) and wondered if it was an allegory for the Clinton administration, this book is for you. If you have not, consider letting Durbin—in his mid-twenties, already familiar in the New York poetry world—take you there. The big questions in Mature Themes are important: How do technology and pop culture mediate experience? Is luxury the privilege of time to sit and think, or the privilege of never having to think? And, as one narrator puts it with reference to the consumption of fantasy and excess, “Once you stop, then what?”
A hybrid of poetry and art criticism, this book reflects a collective generational point of view of overnetworked New Yorkers. Politics, technology, pop culture, autobiography, and modern media myth are the Rorschach blots by which Durbin guides the reader through the space he has carved between objective reality and subjective experience. In the poems, surface trivialities glide abrasively against densely crystallized ideas, producing a kinetic friction. The book is an addictive read. It currently lives in my studio, filed under “Inspirational” because it reaffirms my surrealist approach to art and parallels my strategies for finding the poetry in everything from Google Maps, Clueless, Katy Perry, and Hurricane Sandy to the Raymond Pettibon show at David Zwirner gallery in New York.
Writer of acutely self-aware, post-conceptual, artfully essayistic verse (sometimes about Justin Bieber), poet Andrew Durbin, the fair-haired prince of an increasingly relevant New York poetry scene, was recently spotted slipping into some Jil Sander at a local boutique. "I'm rebranding," he explained. At 25, Durbin's growing public profile—and concern with brand optics—is enviable. He's even caught the attention of the art world, having been invited to do a reading in Zurich by curator Hans Ulrich Obrist earlier this year. Earlier this month, Durbin released his latest poetry collection, Mature Themes. A beguilingly twisty tangle of social critique, pop fandom, and personal overshare, it's a perfect read. One sentence reads, "You might call them saints, carrying the desired world within them, disciplined into fame by its power."
Fantastically aberrant, Durbin’s debut collection of hybridized essay, fiction, and poetry establishes the young writer as a legitimate talent. In short sections that move rapidly from fiction to fact, prose to line break, and back again, Durbin wantonly attaches his poetic mind to a broad range of topics. One piece, “Warm Leatherette,” finds room for Lil Wayne and the poet Joan Retallack, for volcanic eruptions and police brutality, for Selena Gomez and endlings (the last individual of a species of subspecies). As voices erupt with philosophy and critical theory at the least appropriate moments, and prose suddenly funnels into concrete poetry, Durbin maintains a surprising cohesion. Perhaps this is because of the project’s own idiosyncratic engagement with culture, both pop and otherwise—Durbin pursues the social but is not exactly impassioned. He daydreams about merging with a computer in order to more fully experience Google Earth, “magnifying the normal imperfections and irregularities of the earth so that the planet is rendered transparent, misshapen and yet intoxicating in its languishing distinction from the real.” While so much contemporary writing that engages with pop culture and our digital moment feels flat or misguided, Durbin makes full use of the tools available to him.
Mature Themes proves that our demographic is suffering not much attention deficit, but from attention surplus. That's right. We just have too much attention for any one theme, any one metier, any one form.
Mature Themes searches for pieces of people in the streaming media as if panning for gold.
Andrew Durbin isn’t peerless. Pretty, young, and selfie-aware, this New York-based writer-poet-editor shares signs and themes in time. Reading his book I get a sense of myself as belonging to a category I’ve inherited, resisted—the Millennial generation. Who else but us could quote “The Beach”, “Clueless”, and “The Canyons”? Ciara, Virilio, mtvU, Occupy, Oprah, and Tamagotchi? Who else could so nimbly bridge pre- and post-Internet consciousness.... Durbin’s talents make me proud to share time and space with him, with all Millennials: no shame. To riff on Rihanna (née 1988), embracing Andrew Durbin was like finding love in what is, or so we’ve been told, a hopeless place.