If you’ve not heard of poet Rupi Kaur, it’s likely you’ve been living under a rock (or aren’t on Instagram).
Kaur, 24, has become known as an ‘Instapoet,’ using the platform to showcase her poetry and illustrations.
In doing so, she’s gained a legion of young female followers and currently has 1.3 million of them.
Her cyber popularity is matched by her ‘real life’ success — her debut anthology, Milk and Honey, so far shifted 1.4 million copies, which is unheard of for a new author, let alone a new poet.
Part of her appeal is down to her simple, accessible writing style.
For those used to poetry laced in archaic language, impenetrable structure, and layers and layers of meaning, Kaur’s verse is a breath of fresh air.
Also the topics she writes about — trauma, loss, heartbreak, abuse, femininity, and grief — touch on the everyday lived experiences of lots of her fans.
Kaur achieves that great feat of accessing universal truths through writing about the particularities of her own experiences.
Often sad, sometimes uplifting, always relevant.
And it’s the relevance that allows so many women to access support, solidarity, and healing through her work.
Although Instagram was the springboard to her success, Kaur took a stand against it when she posted photos of herself menstruating.
Intending to show the hypocrisy of a platform happy to host highly sexualized photos of women yet unwilling to give them the autonomy to post about certain aspects of their own body and own experiences, her point was proved when Instagram took her photos down.
This censoring only drove more fans her way.
Eventually the photos were reinstated by Instagram, and remain there, showing the complexity of women’s experience of success online and off.
Kaur also illustrates her poems, with equally simple, but achingly insightful pictures.
These add another level of accessibility to her work, through allowing people to picture meanings and relate to the images.
Kaur was born in Punjab, India, before moving to Toronto, Canada when she was four.
As she got older she submitted poetry to anthologies, knowing, she says, that they wouldn’t be accepted as the subject matter wasn’t vast landscapes, but women.
To get past the gatekeepers of the esteemed poetry journals, she originally self-published Milk and Honey.
Then things really took off for her, and it was picked up by a publishing house.
Since then, she’s graduated college, gone on a world tour to give readings, given a TED talk, and inspired a whole new generation to read, embrace, and write poetry.
In September, her eagerly awaited second anthology, The Sun and Her Flowers, comes out, and of course she’s given a little preview of what to expect on Instagram.
We can’t wait, and applaud Rupi Kaur for breaking down barriers and inspiring young poets and non-poets alike on her way to success.
touring has been so much fun. it's also difficult at times. a blessing. a lot of laughs and sometimes tears. some of the biggest challenges i've faced are 1. i broke my right hand in spain. touring w my writing hand out of service is an undertaking when half the purpose of the tour is to sign books for readers. but we made stamps!! and instead of my terrible handwriting you're getting an aesthetically pleasing stamp. cool right? 2. the hours. with hardly any days off and most days being packed back to back with media. events. and business meetings. there's very little me time. i am am still figuring out how to prioritize self care in order to manage migraines and colds and severe menstrual pains. you don't consider these things until they happen. 3. i miss home cooked meals!! ❤️ but these challenges are nothing compared to the fact that above all. this is the time of my life. oh man the stories and adventures we've had. and the challenges make it that much more exciting. three of my favourite things have been: 1. you all. your smiles and stories are worth everything. your hearts remind me constantly why i do this. 2. being able to travel with my tour family. throwing coins and making wishes at the trevi fountain. taking in the beach in barcelona. the mountains in new zealand. i could go on and on. but doing this w my tour family is what brings me joy. manager photographer videographer agent publishers and the friends who join us along the way. we feel every experience together. that's the best part. its so important when you're on the road. if i'm out 15 hours a day working. they're there with me. not a single complaint. we move as a unit. 3. i know i said i miss home cooked meals but damn. the food!!! the food has been wicked. we've had the yummiest food around the world. thank you universe for blessing my tastebuds. we just wrapped up in new zealand and are at the airport heading to sydney. cannot wait to share all the video and photos we've captured. hope you are well. taking care of yourselves and reminding yourselves you are enough. hugs from me to you !!!
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