The passport chooses to tell its story about you. Is that story one of your own making? Can it ever be? Passport Photos is marked by an event. Amitava Kumar, Passport Photos (PP).
I started this collection of poems and prose as early as my teenage years. The collection is a passport of sorts, since it documents my life… The reason it’s called Cancelled Without Prejudice is that, when I renewed my passport, they mistakenly put “M” for sex, even though it clearly stated F in my application. Immigrants do not travel in one language alone (PP). And their remedy was a huge stamp saying Cancelled Without Prejudice.
Some ways that the collection explores this cancellation without prejudices is by examining what it means to be queer, a woman, masculine, an immigrant, etc. and how these identities are viewed by the world and myself. When this incident occurred, I was studying Amitava Kumar’s Passport Photos. I found the book helpful in putting together the collection since the issues he addressed are often presented in my daily life.
Forgeries work only when they recall what is accepted as real. This book [Passport Photos] mimics the presentation of information about an individual in the pages of a passport: Name, Place of Birth, Date of Birth… Its forgery is most apparent in places where the information does not fit on the dotted line. Where the individual takes on the shape of a collective. Where the category, as with the question of nationality, splits. Where the rich ambiguities of a personal [and] or cultural history perhaps resist a plain reply or, in still other cases, demand a complex though unequivocal response. (PP)