2001, 111 pages
The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers, Bhanu Kapil's full-length collection of prose poems, is arranged using a series of twelve repeated questions, such as:
"How will you begin?"
"Describe a morning you woke without fear"
"Who was responsible for the suffering of your mother?"
The manuscript is set in diverse places—Punjab, Central America, England, Arizona—where the meditations on the "interrogations" considered by the narrator are described in surprising, sensual language that is segmented and seeking.
Only at the end of the twentieth century could a writer create this compelling combination of experience and imagination, education and tradition, sex and prayer. This magic and modern coming of age could not have been written at any other time, yet its references bring the reader places that are distinctly not 1990s America.
Bhanu Kapil was born in the United Kingdom and lives in the United States and the United Kingdom. She is the author of a number of full-length works of poetry/prose, including The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers (Kelsey Street Press, 2001), Incubation: a space for monsters (Leon Works, 2006 with a new edition forthcoming from Kelsey Street Press), humanimal [a project for future children] (Kelsey Street Press, 2009), Schizophrene (Nightboat, 2011), Ban en Banlieue (Nightboat, 2015), and How to Wash a Heart (Liverpool University Press, 2020).
In 2020 Kapil received the T.S. Eliot Prize for her collection How to Wash a Heart, as well as the Windham Campbell Prize for Poetry.