Monday, November 09, 2020

Strange and familiar at once: Bhanu Kapil and the langauge of poetry

The title of Bhanu Kapil's "How to Wash a Heart" ends with an unfamiliar collocation: not an often washed part of the body like "hands" or "hair" but "a heart". This turn at the end of the phrase makes it a good title for a poetry collection, but its position as the collection's title also makes it less strange, as such word play is expected in poetry. And when the phrase first appears in the book, it's connected to the world of art by a "curator's question" about what kind of heart it is. This "heart" is thus both strange and familiar at once, as all words become in aesthetic contexts. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 9 November)


How to wash a heart:

Remove it.

Animal or ice?

The curator's question reveals

Their power style.

If power implies relationship,

Then here we are

At the part where even if something

Goes wrong,

That's exactly how it's meant to be.

Your job is to understand

What the feedback is.

It's such a pleasure to spend time

Outside the house.

There's nowhere to go with this

Except begin:

To plunge my forearms

Into the red ice

That is already melting

In the box.

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