Injila Rasul, Contributor
Rupi Kaur is an inspirational poet and an important voice against many problems faced by south asian women. This article explores her many beautiful and thought-provoking poems.
The remarkable quality of her poetry is how beautifully unhinged it is. It is specific, then it is not. It is grounded in realities, yet revolves around themes of a surreal world. That is perhaps the best way to describe her work; surreal.
Of her phenomenal rise to fame, Rob Walker writes
Kaur, 24, came from nowhere to sell 1.4 million copies of her first book,Milk and Honey. That is almost unheard of for a first-time writer, let alone a first-time poet. First self-published in 2014 and then by a publishing house the following year, the poetry collection became aNew York Timesbestseller.
PHOTO: AMAZON, MILK AND HONEY
It is wispy in its wording, whimsical in its metaphors and temperamental, almost, in its flow. Her topics vary from love and rejection to a person’s relationship with oneself. The nuances of interacting with one’s own sensitivities and complexities.
PHOTO: AMAZON, MILK AND HONEY
She explores sexuality with frankness uncharacteristic of south asian women, that in of itself is her pushing back against the boxes women find themselves in; neat demarcations of topics they have the freedom to explore versus topics deemed too crude for women to discuss openly. Her stark refusal to adhere by such outdated demarcations, her continued explorations of what it means to be herself is precisely why we love her so much. Someone being unapologetically themselves is without doubt one of the greatest recommendations for an artist.
Her honesty, passion for life and her perspective on its many tragedies makes her body of work an excellent read for someone going through trials and tribulations. The words she use are broad enough to allow room for anyone to relate to the idea at hand, yet specific enough to evoke a certain emotion in the reader. You do not get the feeling that this is a commentary on an experience beyond your life, but in fact there is such poignant familiarity in her words that it leaves you feeling somewhat exposed and wondering, ‘how did she know?’ We agree with Abby Jamison when she says
the following about Kaur:
What makes Kaurs poems so memorable isnt just their short and sweet format or the beautiful line drawings paired with each poem; its how she seems to always know exactly how you feel.
Every poem hits home for someone. We have all had things in our life that seem to hold us down and leave us unable tolovewho we are and where we are.
Milk and Honeyis a collection of poems that tackles difficult themes and topics rape, violence, alcoholism, loss, love, trauma but its written in her trademark style and uses her own illustrations. Of her style and it’s appeal Kaur notes to Abby Jamison:
People arent used to poetry thats so easy and simple
And that is the pinnacle of her momentous success and near-cult-like following.
She has changed the way that a lot of us think about poetry shes dusted off its cobwebs, said Daniella Bassett, She really gets to the raw emotion of life but puts it in a human way. Its gorgeous.
Born in India, Kaur moved with her Sikh family to Toronto when she was four years old. Fond of reading at school, but with English her second language she found it difficult to understand most of the poetry. What she loved was cutting and pasting words and images, or filling up poems with drawings.
It is not a million miles from what she does now and that formula will not change for her second book.
Of her new book and it’s content she remarks:
Losing what you think is the love of your life and dealing with its raw aftermath. How do you redefine love when your idea of love is something thats so violent? When your idea of passion is anger. How do you fix that?
Her words made only more poetic by her illustrations, just as whimsical and surreal, make her incredibly unique as an artist. Her unconventional methods of reaching her audience directly, responding and engaging with them on her social media, particularly Instagram, is a case study in understanding the dynamics of todays’ audiences. We wish her the best of luck for the work left ahead of her.
Tell us, which one of her poems or illustrations is your favorite?