The work focuses on historical scenes that have set the stage for critical and communal discourse on hate crimes committed against South Asian migrants within a larger context of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States, which have seen a documented rise since the attacks on the World Trade Center, spiking after the 2016 Presidential elections.
The book centers on three historical scenes that represent nationally significant hate-crimes: the assault on and death of Navroze Mody, after leaving a café (New Jersey, 1987); the murder of Balbir Singh Sodhi (Arizona, 2001), while planting flowers outside his own gas station; the murder of Srinivas Kuchibhotla while he was having an after-work drink at a bar (Kansas, 2017).
The poems pursue documentary traditions, favoring an expansive approach to intertextuality, source-to-page relationships, the range of roles available for the voice, and intermedial contact (between text and image).
CURB emerged out of a poem from my previous book Kith—a poem called “No English. Indian. Walking” The poem takes as its epigraph from a letter to the editor. This letter was written by The Dotbusters, a hate group that terrorized Indian immigrants and Indian Americans in New Jersey in 1987:
The title of the poem is a quotation from Sureshbhai Patel, a 57 year old man from Gujarat, India.
In February 2015, Patel was visiting his son’s family in Alabama, after recently becoming a grandfather. When he was taking a morning walk around his block, a neighbor had called the police, citing a “skinny black guy” prowling around the neighborhood. A cop car tracked him down, mere yards from his son’s home. When asked what he was doing on the sidewalk he said: “No English. Indian. Walking.” He was assaulted & thrown to the ground by Madison Police Officer Eric Parker. The assault left Patel paralyzed. The lawsuit against Parker alleged a number of claims: false arrest, improper search & seizure, excessive force. A year later, Parker was acquitted of civil rights violation charges & was reinstated into the Madison Police Force.
In the September of 2001, Balbir Singh Sodhi was shot and killed by a white, anti-Arab and anti-immigration supremacist on the sidewalks outside his own gas station.
In the February of 2017, Srinivas Kuchibhotla was shot and killed by a white, anti-immigration supremacist at a bar while he was grabbing an after-drink with his friend Alok Madasani.
There are many such cases.
READ EXCERPTS FROM CURB:
READ THE PRINTER’S STATEMENT BY AARON COHICK HERE