Bhanu Kapil will read from her new collection, How To Wash A Heart, a Poetry Book Society Choice and National Poetry Day Selection for 2020. After her reading, she will be glad to answer any questions about her practice and process as a writer.
Bhanu Kapil’s extraordinary and original work has been published in the US over the last two decades. During that time Kapil has established herself as one of our most important and ethical writers. Her books often defy categorisation as she fearlessly engages with colonialism and its ongoing and devastating aftermath, creating what she calls in Ban en Banlieue (2015) a ‘Literature that is not made from literature’. Always at the centre of her books and performances are the experiences of the body, and, whether she is exploring racism, violence, the experiences of diaspora communities in India, England or America, what emerges is a heart-stopping, life-affirming way of telling the near impossible-to-be-told.
How To Wash A Heart depicts the complex relations that emerge between an immigrant guest and a citizen host. Drawn from a first performance at the ICA in London in 2019, and using poetry as a mode of interrogation that is both rigorous, compassionate, surreal, comic, painful and tender, by turn, Kapil begins to ask difficult and urgent questions about the limits of inclusion, hospitality and care.
‘Bhanu Kapil’s How to Wash a Heart catches the thinning smile of that ancient human ritual: hospitality. In a time of increasing hostility against migrants, Kapil demonstrates how survival tunes the guest to its host with devastating intimacy: “It’s exhausting to be a guest / In somebody else’s house / Forever.” In these lines an ancestral trauma pours from the heart of the unwelcome across a warzone, a threshold, into a spare bedroom edging its occupant out. Ultimately what Kapil teaches us is that although the heart might be where desire, gratitude, even love exist, it is an organ to which, like a country, we may never fully belong.’ Sandeep Parmar
This talk will be broadcast live as a Zoom webinar, so your microphone and camera will be turned off throughout. You may submit questions during the event for the Q&A that follows using the Zoom chat function.