William Shakespeare. Emily Dickinson. Walt Whitman. Edgar Allen Poe. Maya Angelou. These are the names of just some of the greatest poets to ever live and grace us with their undeniable talent.But who is the Dickinson or Poe or Angelou of our time? Is there even one? I believe there is, and her name is Rupi Kaur.
If you haven’t heard of Rupi Kaur, she is a supremely quotable #1 New York Times bestselling author for her poetry books...and everyone is obsessed with her work (and rightfully so).
So, Who Is Rupi Kaur?
Rupi Kaur in currently 26 years old; she was born in 1992 in India. She and her mother moved to Toronto, Canada when she was just four years old so they could reunite with Rupi’s father, who was living there for his job. Rupi didn’t have the best time adjusting to a new country; she felt very alone. In an interview with India Today, Rupi recalls her difficult childhood:
"You grow up with so much self-hate," she said. "At home my parents would tell me not to go out in the sun because I'd become dark. At school, I would be told I have a very wide frame and I have hair here and hair there and I would just think, 'I'm a mistake!'"
In 2015, Rupi graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Waterloo where she studied rhetoric writing.
On her FAQ section of her website, Rupi explains how she got into the love of writing:
A Hand-Picked Bouquet of Rupi Kaur Quotes
Milk and Honey: The Book That Made Her Famous
Before she even graduated, she was already a published author. In 2014, during her junior year of college, Rupi released her first collection of poems: “milk and honey.” It is arguably the most popular poetry book of this generation. Over 2.5 million copies of the book have been sold so far and it has been translated into 30 languages. It’s safe to say Rupi’s words are universal.
Rupi’s poems touch base on powerful subjects such as rape, feminism, abuse, self-love, immigration, mental health, alcoholism, etc. Rupi does not hold back with her poems; she bares her soul for the world to read. Her style of writing is short and sweet; she uses short, raw verses with arbitrary line-breaks.
Many critics do not like Rupi’s style of poetry; they say it is too harsh, too short, not traditional enough, you name it. But Rupi’s rule-breaking new style is exactly why Millennials like myself are drawn to it. Her quotes are short and to the point, and hit you right in the heart with their painful relatability. In seven words, Rupi can sum up my love life better than a 500 word poem by a legendary poet from the 1600s.
Here are a few of my favorite poems from “milk and honey.”
The crazy thing is, Rupi Kaur self-published “milk and honey.” It’s not like she was signed to a major publishing company that was going to publish her book. She was just one girl who believed and invested in her talent. On August 29, 2018, Rupi wrote a special message on her Facebook page that talked about that pivotal moment:
The Sun and Her Flowers
After the huge success Rupi had with “milk and honey,: she returned to the writing studio and worked on her second collection of poems: “the sun and her flowers,” which was published in 2017 by Andrews McMeel Publishing. In this collection of poems, she writes about topics such as femininity, love, healing, and more.
When asked how she came up with this title, Rupi said, “i was in love with the way sunflowers worshipped the sun. how they rise with the sun. how they follow the sun around. i thought that was such a beautiful representation of love and relationships.”
Here are some of my favorite poems from “the sun and her flowers.”
Rupi A.K.A the “Instapoet”
Along with being a phenomenal poet, Rupu is also a brilliant business woman. Rupi is known as an “instapoet”. She uses instagram (@rupikaur_) to highlight her work and also to shed light on issues women face every day. With more than 3.7 million followers, Rupi is able to make a difference in this world, just with her words.
In an app that is mostly pictures of models in bikinis showing their seemingly perfect bodies and lives, Rupi is honest and raw with her followers and shares her vulnerable thoughts. It is honestly a breath of fresh air seeing Rupi’s posts when I’m scrolling through Instagram.
Here’s a video of Rupi talking about her relationship with Instagram, and how she creates a balance between pleasing her followers and pleasing her own creativity and peace of mind.
What Else Has Rupi Been up To?
Rupi loves to give poetry readings from her collections. A really cool thing she did about a year ago was a poetry reading on the same stage where she graduated from college. Instead of receiving a diploma, this time she was reading her powerful poems to a group of 800 admiring fans. Talk about full circle.
Rupi also recently met up with book connoisseur and actor phenomenon, Emma Watson. Emma interviewed Rupi for her book club, The Shared Shelf. In this video, Rupi and Emma talk about Rupi’s journey to poetry stardom and Emma’s deep admiration for Rupi’s work.
“I loved it (the book) as a shorthand for ideas I found really difficult to express myself. I would refer myself to this poem and send them a screenshot…I felt so lucky to have that as a tool… to be like “this is what it feels like”...you’re giving people more words and it’s incredible,” says Watson.
Rupi is currently on a writing residency at the Space on Ryder Farm, which is a place for artists to continue their work in a beautiful setting, all while giving back to nature. So hopefully this writing residency means that Rupi is working on her third book which I (and the world) need ASAP.
On a personal note, Rupi has made a huge impact on my life. I’ve always adored poetry and wanted to try writing my own poems, but never thought I had the talent for it. I just couldn’t figure out how to make something impactful and true to me, while following the traditional ways of poetry (like rhyming every other sentence, having it be at least 16 sentences long, etc.)
When I saw Rupi’s poems and how short and raw they were, and how people were so receptive to this new way of poetry, I thought to myself, “Hey, I can do that!” So I bought a journal and started to pour my thoughts and feelings into it. I quickly had a bunch of short “Rupi Kaur” style poems, only they were my words. I now have 40 poems, and one day, I want to self-publish my very own poetry book, just like Rupi.
Rupi shows us that if you have a dream, go for it. If you have something to say, say it. Don’t hold back and let life or people shut you up. Thank you Rupi, for sharing your gorgeous talent with us all.