The Stationers' Company
The City of London Livery Company for the Communications and Content Industries


22 JUNE 2020

Stationers’ Poetry Book Society  Weekly Poem - Number  9

The Poetry Book Society have suggested this poem by  Bhanu Kapil  as our ninth  lock down poem.  Members will find it in their own area of the website and should log in and read it there along with all sorts of other items pertinent to the lock down!

The art of crisis

Is that you no longer
Think of home
As a place for social respite.
Instead, it’s a ledge
Above a narrow canyon.
This is where you shit
And sleep, dreaming one night
Of jellyfish
In an aquarium
In Berlin, a factor
Of your European
Beneath your clothes, you wear
A corset
Of bones, oil and
Cabbage leaves:
A sticky paste.
This causes shame
When it’s time
To disrobe
In the facility.


Featured with the permission of Liverpool University Press, from How To Wash A Heart by Bhanu Kapil (Pavilion Poetry, 2020)

To mark Refugee Week we’re sharing this powerful poem from our PBS Summer Choice, Bhanu Kapil’s How To Wash A Heart. This extraordinary sequence explores the relationship between a guest migrant and a citizen host and asks urgent questions about the limits of welcome, migration and mental health, racism and the balance of visibility and surveillance. In "the art of crisis", Bhanu tackles the complex nexus of home and belonging, refuge and crisis, which takes on new resonance during the current pandemic. Watch Bhanu perform and discuss these poems at the PBS online book club here.

Bhanu Kapil is the author of five books of poetry/prose: The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers (Kelsey Street Press, 2001), Incubation: a space for monsters (Leon Works, 2006), humanimal [a project for future children] (Kelsey Street Press, 2009), Schizophrene (Nightboat, 2011), and Ban en Banlieue (Nightboat, 2015). Kapil has performed internationally, most recently as part of the Serpentine’s Back To Earth curation. She has recently returned to the UK after many years in the United States, where she taught at Naropa University and Goddard College.


Join the Poetry Book Society for more poetic inspiration and a year of poetry parcels delivered to your home. PBS Choice members enjoy the very best new poetry book of the season, the PBS Choice, and our lively quarterly poetry magazine. To share the love this summer, we're offering gift members a free poetry book and a stunning tote bag featuring Ocean Vuong's quote "poetry is a bridge between two people".


Photo: kellywritershouse