Saturday, March 05, 2011

The Weekend Read: Bhanu Kapil we love you

Friday, January 21, 2011

Semi-colons are like long scratches
on a body.  Vowels as saturated.  Rimbaud drinking coffee in a room with red and yellow wallpaper, looking out the window at the jungle rain.  But commas as a scarring process set in motion by the abrasions performed by other kinds of punctuation.  I like commas.  I like semi-colons.  Though they mar a lyric effort, I want them.  I want a sentence that takes up the theme of bodies and violence, thematically.  The theme of the sentence is its grammar.  "What appears in the photograph is unfamiliar.  We don't recognize it."  (Duras.)  Like that: a content dissipating before a person's eyes.  Like smoke trapped beneath a glass, in fairytales.  And bars.  As a late-night trick, in the time when you could light up. Inside.  So that what I assess is the pollen index of a poem, the places where the surface is speckled or torn, with drifting grains.  A dash.  A line.  A stop.  Every texture is diasporic.  Every body, in its fundament, will loosen from its radical core and drift, too.  This is why I prefer cremation over burial.  I don't want to be buried.  I want my ashes to be taken to the Ganges, and to the coast of Oregon, at Florence, where I first saw the Pacific -- I heard it before I saw it, and my heart swung wide.  (Notes towards an Asian-American Grammar Book.)  (Notes for the sea.)
The above is a blog post from Bhanu Kapil's blog Was Jack Kerouac Punjabi. Kapil is author of, among other things, Humanimal, a wonderfully strange and original piece of writing. She is also a professor of poetry and poetics at Naropa. Here's Laynie Brown talking about Humanimal. I read Kapil because her use of language and her take on the universe is unlike any other. She brings, not only an entanglement of cultural experiences, but a resolutely value driven perspective, a commitment to presence and witness, to seeing everything that passes before her. Nothing is taken for granted here, though the text actually may be quite a simple, clear gesture--it rarely looks that way. For example, from Handwritten Preface to Reverse the Book

1 Reverse the book in duration. What does that mean? I am writing to you. These notes now when it’s too late.
   2 If the cyborg you read about in bookstores is an immigrant from Mexico crossing into the U.S. beneath a floodlit court, then mine is a Punjabi-British hitchhiker on a JI visa. This is tunneling as seen from a satellite—sort of concave warp in the dirt of the line

What is a book? A body? A language? I leave you with a snippet from a comment stream at The Voice Box:  


alex potts

in my english class we read bhanu kapil's short story "three voices"
so my teacher asked us e-mail sobody and find out what the story is about.

Austin Jackson

hi.Im Austin Jackson and I am enrolled in an AP English class and we read Bhanu Kapil's short story "Three Voices". We discussed the story yesterday in class but everyone has differing opinions about it. Our English teacher has asked us too get proof of what the author meant by the story. I would really appreciate it if someone could give Bhanu Kapil my e-mail so she could contact me. Thank You!!!

austin jackson

Please respond!!!


Dear Alex and Austin,
My story was not a story; it was a non-fiction account of a winter afternoon in New York in my mid-twenties. As I recall, I was suffering from vertigo. Was I married? At various times, I was. Snow. Ice. Catalpa pods outside the window. As it is, I am now 41 and have lost my heart, time and time again, though now it is back in my body. Not wrapped in a T-shirt in the snow. And the story no longer functions as non-fiction, but as a beautiful story I once wrote about a winter afternoon early in first marriage, which was not a marriage at all. I'd like to add that to assume the author recollects their originating logic is a notion you should disabuse yourself of at once. What is AP? If they haven't told you that yet in this AP, then I am telling you now. The author is not, generally, the person you should ask about their work. What are they going to say? They are going to tell you another thing that doesn't function as sibilance. What's sibilance? That's a better question. Yours, Bhanu, the terrible and vile authoress.
Hear the story yourself.

1 comment:

Gillian W said...

that was delightful!