Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Kelsey Street's Vertical Questions Project

In the years since Vertical Interrogation for Strangers was published, Bhanu Kapil has received dozens of letters and emails from readers who have taken the questions that foreground the book’s structure and answered them in their own way. Listen to Bhanu say more about this here.

One such reader is the poet Jean Valentine. A section in her recent collection, Little Boat (Wesleyan University Press, 2007), offers poems in response to the Vertical queries. Here are a couple of my favorites.

What is the shape of your body?

Staunch meadow for the children

your thin ghost-body

Whatever kind of eyes
you have now, lend to me—

How will you/have you prepare(d) for your death?

quiet ready
the wires inside the walls

and when no wires
and when no walls

—with you it wasn’t flesh & blood, it was under:
I know you brokenheart before this world,
and I know you after.

Kelsey Street Press invites you to send us your answers to the Vertical questions.

Tell us how they have let you in to your own questions. Use them to interview someone else, as a tempate for a new investigation, as a writing assignment for youself. Teachers, have you used the questions with your students? How?

KSP publishes books by women, but we hope to have readers/bloggers of all genders contribute to this engagement.

For me, the questions will be one of several ways into a study of disability culture and aesthetics. The questions will serve as a thrid surface, something neutral (not made by me) between a body’s investment (my own and those I will talk with) in such a study and the body of work that might be arrived at. I hpe to present some of the questions to clients and staff at the LigtHouse for the Blind and teen girls at an annual Juvenille Arthritis retreat, among others.
Anything you send (writing, visual art and sound welcome) will be archived on this page. This project will be ongoing.

Twelve Questions from The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers

1. Who are you and whom do you love?
2. Where did you come from/How did you arrive?
3. How will you begin?
4. How will you live now?
5.What is the shape of your body?
6.Who is responsible for the suffering of your mother?
7. What do you remember about the earth?
8.What are the consequences of silence?
9.Tell me what you know about dismemberment.
10.Describe a morning you woke without fear.
11.How will you, have you, prepared for your death?
12.And what would you say if you could?


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