Bhanu Kapil’s The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers
I discovered Bhanu Kapil in January this year, by chance, when reading a Laura Mullen interview in which she discussed experimental poetry and hybrid forms of literature (it is an excellent interview, by the by). I Googled Kapil and found extracts of her work on poetry.org (these are the exact links: here and here) and let’s just say – it was love at first read.
The vivid sumptuousness of Kapil’s language, the unconventional daring of both content and style dazzled my senses, left me dizzy for more. I went and purchased all of her books, and I’ve been slowly working my way through them – very slowly, in fact, because these are the kinds of books that you simultaneously want to devour and never finish; the kinds of books in which each sentence could be unpacked for hours or days and still be powerfully rewarding.
Recently I stumbled upon notes I had written while reading Bhanu’s first novel, The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers (Kelsey Street Press, 2001), and I thought that I would share them here.
“Every day includes much more non-being than being. This is always so. One walks, eats, sees things, deals with what has to be done; the broken vacuum cleaner; ordering dinner; washing; cooking dinner. When it is a bad day the proportion of non-being is much larger.”
– Virginia Woolf
This is it – this is precisely what is most difficult about being a mother of young children. I was speaking with a friend the other day who summed up motherhood perfectly: ‘Lots of time for reflection; little time for action.’
As a largely unpublished (female, minority ethnic) writer, a writer who (like Toni Morrison states in her Paris Review article) has been given the permission to write by ‘No one’, I am already a slow writer. I doubt myself; I hesitate. Motherhood takes away the luxury of time – tells you, If you’re going to write, you have to do it now! No one is going to hand you a slice of writing time on a plate.