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About this poet

Bhanu Kapil was born in England in 1968 to Indian parents, and she grew up in a South Asian, working-class community in London. She developed a childhood interest in writing and cites Salman Rushdie as an early influence. She earned a BA from England’s Loughborough University and, after moving to the United States in 1990, an MA in English Literature from SUNY Brockport.

She is the author of Ban en Banlieue (Nightboat Books, 2015), Schizophrene (Nightboat Books, 2011), humanimal [a project for future children] (Kelsey Street Press, 2009), Incubation: a Space for Monsters (Leon Works, 2006), and The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers (Kelsey Street Press, 2001). 

Kapil’s books, often referred to as “prose/poetry,” tend to be hybrid forms integrating narrative, prose, and verse in different combinations. They also deal with strange, mythological plots—humaninal, for instance, tells the story of two girls in Bengal who were supposedly raised by wolves, and Incubation follows the journey of a cyborg girl across America. According to the poet Jenny Zhang, “Bhanu has a way of speaking to those of us who move through life feeling at once alien and recognizable, she speaks to us—the cyborgs, the aliens, the displaced, the feral, the untamed.”

She teaches in the Department of Writing and Poetics at Naropa University and in the low-residency MFA program at Goddard College, and she lives in Boulder, Colorado.



Selected Bibliography

Ban en Banlieue (Nightboat Books, 2015)
Schizophrene (Nightboat Books, 2011)
humanimal [a project for future children] (Kelsey Street Press, 2009)
Incubation: a Space for Monsters (Leon Works, 2006)
The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers (Kelsey Street Press, 2001)

 

What are the consequences of silence?

53.

Red Canna, I see you. Edge of. What I saw: a flower blossoming, in slow motion. 
Not specific enough. Okay. No. Cannot. Red Canna, I veer into you. I am not in 
one straight line. Red Canna, I see you. 1904. The University of Arizona Museum 
of Art. Opening in slow motion: are you okay? Are you okay? Can you hear me? 
(I can't)

That's how it begins: impenetrable.

The book of two words I happen to see, out of the corner of my eye, on a wall. Such 
slowness.

These words took years to arrive.

From A Vertical Interrogation of Strangers by Bhanu Kapil Rider, published by Kelsey St. Press. Copyright © 2001 by Bhanu Kapil Rider. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

From A Vertical Interrogation of Strangers by Bhanu Kapil Rider, published by Kelsey St. Press. Copyright © 2001 by Bhanu Kapil Rider. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Bhanu Kapil

Bhanu Kapil, born in England in 1968 to Indian parents, is the author of Ban en Banlieue (Nightboat Books, 2015) and humanimal [a project for future children] (Kelsey Street Press, 2009).

by this poet

poem

4. Feral children are fatty, complex and rigid. When you captured the two children, you had to brush the knots out of their hair then scrape the comb free of hard butter. Descent and serration. No. I don't want to ask primal questions.

5. Kamala slips over the garden wall

poem

47. I want to make a dark mirror out of writing: one child facing the other, like Dora and little Hans. I want to write, for example, about the violence done to my father's body as a child. In this re-telling, India is blue, green, black and yellow like the actual, reflective