Through transgressive, lyrical language Bhanu Kapil undoes multiple genres to excavate crucial questions of trauma, healing, immigration, and embodiment at the outskirts of performance and process.
Bhanu Kapil is a British writer of Indian origin who now lives between the United Kingdom and the United States. Her most recent publication, Ban en Banlieue (2016), takes a mysterious being called Ban as its protagonist. “Ban,” Kapil tells us, is not an immigrant. She is not even a body, but a “bodily outline.” A passive-violent, beautiful-monstrous, familiar-strange, present-absence, “Ban” recalls but refuses to represent those individuals who are despised, displaced, or even “banned” by the neocolonialist nations in which they live. An earlier collection, Schizophrene (2011) likewise disrupts the familiar tropes of the diaspora story, arguing that “it is psychotic not to know when you are in a national space.” Of course, as Kapil shows us, national spaces are themselves a kind of mass psychosis, their border walls built not with bricks but with the bodies and minds of the marginalized. In all her work, Kapil’s primary interest is on these marginalized: those living on the bottom, along the edges, citizens of what she calls “the floor of the world.” Kapil taught for many years at Naropa University and Goddard College. In 2019, she was awarded the Judith E. Wilson Poetry Fellowship at the University of Cambridge. During this time, she completed her first full-length poetry collection to be published in the United Kingdom, How to Wash a Heart (2020).
The impact of receiving the Windham-Campbell Prize during a global pandemic is life-changing and life-supporting for myself and my family. I hope that I can use whatever relief or good that comes from having won such an honor to be of service, on-going, to those in more vulnerable situations than my own.BHANU KAPIL