Bhanu Kapil is a poet born and brought up in the UK. In 2019, Bhanu took up the Judith E. Wilson Poetry Fellowship in poetry in the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge and is currently an artist by-fellow at Churchill College. In 2020 Bhanu was honoured by a Windham Campbell Prize for Poetry from Yale University, and a Cholmondeley Award, also for poetry, from the Society of Authors.
Her poetry collection, How To Wash A Heart, was published in the UK by Pavilion Poetry and has been shortlisted for the 2020 T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry. It was a Poetry Book Society Choice for Summer 2020.
Bhanu Kapil’s first book, The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers, was published in 2001 by Kelsey Street Press. She went on to publish four more best-selling books of poetry in the United States: Incubation: a space of monsters (forthcoming in 2021 in a new edition from Kelsey Street Press), Humanimal [a project for future children] (Kelsey Street Press, 2009), Schizophrene (Nightboat Books, 2011) and Ban en Banlieue (Nightboat Books, 2015).
In 2016, the writers Amina Cain, Douglas A. Martin, Sofia Samatar, Kate Zambreno, and Jenny Zhang held a three-day roundtable conversation on her work at The Believer.
Bhanu studied poetry in western New York in the 90s. She worked variously as a waitress in an assortment of diners, a carer in a group home for developmentally disabled adults, and as an employee of “The Map”, selling spaces around the edges of tourist maps to businesses in Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico. Bhanu also studied at the Boulder College of Massage Therapy maintaining a flourishing private practice as a bodyworker for twelve years.
In 2000, Bhanu taught a summer workshop at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, filling in for a poet who had dropped out the night before. This last-minute substitution led to a twenty year career at Naropa University culminating in the rank of Associate Professor. In 2019, Bhanu was awarded a Faculty of the Year award by the student body, a profound and proprioceptive gift. Currently Bhanu teaches across genres in the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing at Goddard College.
Bhanu has, since 2008, maintained a blog called The Vortex of Formidable Sparkles that has reached over a million readers. Materials from the blog were installed as Formidable Sparkles, a solo presentation curated by Harry Burke as part of Art Basel, for S.A.L.T.S. Bhanu recently decided to close the blog, and has returned to a notebook practice, where she is writing a novel by hand. She intends to remain in England, part of an on-going experiment in belonging to a place.