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Bhanu Kapil was born in England in 1968 to Indian parents. She developed a childhood interest in writing and cites Salman Rushdie as an early influence. She earned a BA from England’s Loughborough University and, after moving to the United States in 1990, an MA in English Literature from SUNY Brockport.
Kapil’s collections include How to Wash a Heart (Liverpool University Press, 2020), winner of the T. S. Eliot Prize; Ban en Banlieue (Nightboat Books, 2015); humanimal [a project for future children] (Kelsey Street Press, 2009); Incubation: a Space for Monsters (Leon Works, 2006); and The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers (Kelsey Street Press, 2001). Kapil’s books, often referred to as “prose/poetry,” tend to be hybrid forms integrating narrative, prose, and verse in different combinations. They also deal with strange, mythological plots—humanimal, for instance, tells the story of two girls in Bengal who were supposedly raised by wolves, and Incubation follows the journey of a cyborg girl across America.
According to the poet Jenny Zhang,
Bhanu has a way of speaking to those of us who move through life feeling at once alien and recognizable; she speaks to us—the cyborgs, the aliens, the displaced, the feral, the untamed.
Kapil is the recipient of a 2020 Windham Campbell Prize.