A Lit Hub Most Anticipated Book of 2021
An NPR Best Book of 2021
An Electric Literature Best Poetry Book of 2021
A Dennis Cooper Best Book of 2021
Hoarders is a tender and unusual exploration of place, loneliness, grief, and desire in late capitalist America.
What is the true nature of the relationship between people and objects? Kate Durbin’s Hoarders is a quest into this question, vividly capturing the sticky attachments between people and their stuff.
To create the book, Durbin took detailed notes while watching the reality TV show of the same name, one she had resisted watching for years because of her family’s history of hoarding. She then began whittling, re-arranging, researching, and writing, and what emerges is her unique form–fifteen jewel-like portraits of people and their beloved objects, in curious conversation with one another.
Noah and Allie live in a Chicago house toppling with books. Chuck from Bisbee, Arizona hoards thousands of paintings of naked women. Gary from Franklin, Indiana has transformed his home into a forest, where he falls asleep each night surrounded by plants, both living and dead. Cathy in Centralia, Illinois spends her nights ordering Lularoe leggings and jewelry from Home Shopping channels. Shelley’s house in Warren, Michigan is crowded with Barbies and Beanie Babies. Durbin doesn't directly critique the reality show, yet she deftly demonstrates through these magnetic poems that there's far more to a person, a life, and their “things.”
Noah & Allie
“Durbin’s work has what the A&E show lacks: a capacious sense of humanity, a nuanced understanding of how consumerism might shape compulsions, and a deeply expressed empathy for the subtleties of life under capitalism…In this reinvention, each character’s own narration takes precedence over the more salacious details of their disorder, bringing us into their personal, sometimes painful, worlds. Each poem consists of connected fragments, little piles. Each stanza reads like a conversation between the person and their stuff…The poems themselves are cluttered, yet their vibrancy is hard to overstate. Durbin astutely marries content and meaning, overwhelming the reader while dialing into our internal monstrous consumer.” —Alyse Burnside, The Atlantic
“It’s Durbin’s exquisitely fine-tuned attention that is thrown into new relief in Hoarders, a book that chronicles the lived experiences of people who cannot let go of things, and the things that “glow” under the attention of being witnessed and inventoried by Durbin’s vivid and heartbreaking renderings.” —Emily Skillings, The Believer
“Hoarders, Durbin’s newest collection, is a look at and through the documentary series of the same name, to the the secret life of American objects. It shows how we are formed with, by, and through our relationships with our stuff — which haunts and is haunted in equal measure. It is a powerful, beautiful, and deeply unsettling book.” —Kyle Williams, Full Stop
“Television wants to provide a tidy narrative—dirty home transformed into clean home, sad changed to happy. But Durbin’s curations, inventions, and re-imaginings allow this material to transcend its form, and the result is a fascinating collection about connection, desire, and what it means to be American.” —Chelsea Hodson, Lit Hub
“In centering imperfect, struggling shopaholics more likely to amass cheap dresses from TJ Maxx than hit up Rodeo Drive, Durbin provides insight into the most dysfunctional realms of consumer culture…” —Sandra Simonds, Poetry Foundation
“Though the swift-moving spectacle of the television show invites viewers to cast easy judgment on these hoarders, Durbin employs poetry's slower speed to show a more complicated picture. Instead of using [their stories] to make us feel better about ourselves for not being hoarders, she indicts aspects of American culture we all participate in—religion, capitalism—and reveals our complicity, all the while dropping a lot of sight gags in the process.” —Rich Smith, The Stranger
“From what I presume is an abundance of hoarded material on the reality TV show, [Durbin] isolates these stunning and evocative tableaux that feel very moving, memento mori, and in a way treat the hoarded material with the care and dignity that many of the hoarders espouse.” —JoAnna Novak, Los Angeles Review of Books
“Like another marvelous Wave book, Chelsey Minnis’s Baby, I Don’t Care, Durbin’s Hoarders is energized by the joyous single mindedness of the poet and her subjects. Ronnie from Las Vegas sums it up: ‘I feel sorry for so-called normal people chair with a paper sign taped to it that says Seat Where Buzz Aldrin Sat in blue Sharpie.’” -David Starkey, California Review of Books
“An absurd, bracingly funny depiction of the misery of consumerism—but also something tenderer, about the attachments that make up a life.” —Lit Hub, Most Anticipated Books of 2021
“Hoarders is…spare and…heartbreaking.” —Katharine Coldiron, BOMB
“It's by zooming into objects and slowing down time that Durbin makes her book so different from what you see on TV. In the show Hoarders, it can feel like the goal is to fix everyone really quickly, by the end of each episode. But with her poems, Durbin doesn't want to resolve anything for the reader. She simply wants to stop and listen to whatever the people and their objects have to say.” —NPR, Morning Edition
“Hoarders reckons with the collective alienation that is part of our culture. [It] is a striking union of cultural critique with poetic meditation. The poems here offer an unflinching view of a culture centered around consumption and spectacle, while imploring us to move with kindness through the world.” —CD Eskilson, The Arkansas International