She’s the poet off-of Instagram. Yes, she has ‘followers’ and gets loads of ‘likes’. Poetic-snobs nation-wide want to hate her particular brand of social-media-friendly verse. But, care to admit it or not, Rupi Kaur’s new collection of poetry is beautifully understated, uncomplicated and accessible – what can be so wrong with that?
Rupi lyricises about every human experience, from soul-shuddering sex and utter heartbreak, to gut aching grief and loneliness. Tracing the life of a wild flower, her poems are divided neatly into chapters: wilting, falling, rooting, rising, blooming. Etchings and illustrations paint the words that she writes, bringing each poem to life on the page.
Her most powerful poem is simply called ‘home’. “It began as a typical thursday from what I recall”. Without punctuation, her verse flows effortlessly, like a passing thought or a story she retells herself in moments of deep reflection. It’s raw and unfiltered (no Insta pun intended). She describes the feeling of violence and violation with real poignancy. “my voice threw itself over the edge of my throat/ landed at the bottom of my belly and hid for months”. Sometimes, poetry is impenetrable and abstract, requiring hours of unpacking and dissecting. Here, Kaur wants her readers to feel every emotion from the very first glance. She isn’t trying to prove herself as a literary genius, she’s opening up her mind to us all, hoping we’ll connect in some way.
Clearly, her work resonates with young women. It’s circulated online and shared among friends, quickly gaining momentum. The cover art looks beautiful on a coffee table and makes a great Instagram shot. For sure, Byron and Keats are resting easy in their graves, knowing that their position in the cannon is safe for another thousand years or so. But, I refuse to think there’s no merit in Rupi Kaur’s millennial, digital, feminine poetry. The future of poetry is not doomed to 140 characters and it won’t be judged on the number of ‘likes’ it gets. Kaur’s is a strong, relatable female voice and one that should be celebrated. Who cares where or how you find her work, I think she’s sensational.
Other people’s thoughts on the sun and her flowers: