5/28/2018

Durga Chew-Bose + Ella Yelich O'Connor x Auckland Writers Festival



Hello, it's me. Long time, no blog but never mind, I am back now. I knew when I returned to blogging that I would be publishing this post first. Ever since the cloud-nine experience that was Saturday week, I've been wanting to write about it. Too Much & Not The Mood was a book I purchased on a whim in Wellington last year. I ended up falling in love with its unconventionality and absolutely luscious writing. 

So the idea of basking in Durga and Ella's presence for an hour one Saturday morning felt like a treat. I am not going to lie. Seeing two creatives I admire sharing conversation about the intricacies of writing, a myriad of references to other artists, the detail-driven text that is Too Much & Not The Mood and more was an incredibly special experience. I am thankful for once that they didn't dim the lights during this session so I was able to take notes and I took a lot. Apologies if my transcription is a little rusty. I haven't looked at these notes in a week but hopefully they still make sense. I'm writing them out mostly as I wrote them down so it's not the most structured of posts but anyway....

Ella and Durga met through their mutual friend and fellow genius Tavi Gevinson. I'm referring to Ellas as Ella here because honestly, I think of Lorde as Ella most of the time. Even though we are certainly not on a first-name basis. Anyway, at the beginning of the session they spent a bit of time discussing colour. They made note of the aura readings they had done in New York City and how Ella+Durga really conversed a lot around the time Durga's book was finished up. It coincided with the completion of Melodrama.

They spoke about how purple was and is a pivotal colour for Durga. It's a colour of nostalgia and homecoming throughout Too Much & Not The Mood and she saw it everywhere during the writing of this book. For her, this shade was a return to childhood.

*Reference point: Ella & Durga made note of Maggie Nelson's book Bluets at this point. A fantastic book and one I really need to revisit soon.

They spoke about the Heart Museum essay and Ella described it as a "big, bright, crash course in Durga". This is the main essay in Durga's book and initially it was meant to be one page. Durga wanted to do something in homage to Lydia Davis who is known for her shorter essays. She spoke about how plot doesn't interest her. // This reminded me of Ali Smith whose writing also follows non-linear structures. 

*Reference point: White Girls x Hilton Als. I've ordered this from the library to read. 

"Having intuition as a writer is the greatest gift." -I loved this sentiment so much I tweeted it in real time. 

Writing is always about a return. -Another idea I liked. 

The calibre of women. Durga spoke about how for her, bank tellers represented the ultimate in luxury for women. Like the visual representation of having 'made it' I guess. This point really resonated with me. For me the idea of a women+height of sophistication growing up was tailored coats and detectable perfume. 

*Reference point(s): Agnes Martin, more specifically this. Ella and Durga both spoke about Agnes Martin's work. They also spoke about Polly Platt, screenwriter and production designer. 

"I love that there's this little seed that can become this thing that changes people's lives." -Durga Chew Bose 

*Reference point: The Poetics of Space x Gaston Bachelard. 

Towards the end of the session Ella asked Durga about the space she wants to occupy as a writer. Durga said what she's learning is you don't have to be one kind of writer or artist. The opportunities she is being presented as a result of her book are ones she wouldn't have assumed were accessible to her. // As an aspiring writer I found this particularly inspiring and a reminder to not assume that doors will alway remain closed.

So I loved this session and got a lot from it. Hopefully Auckland Writers Fest will upload the podcast/footage because I believe this session was being recorded. Also Ella should totally chair more panels because she's pretty damn good at it.

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