You may not have heard of Rupi Kaur’s name, but you’ve likely seen her short and relatable poetry posted on Tumblr and Instagram.
Kaur is famous for her simple, raw poems that have reached a wide audience of young readers through various social media platforms. Following the success of her New York Times best-selling book with a collection of poems and minimalist illustrations, “Milk and Honey,” Kaur released a new book, “The Sun and Her Flowers,” earlier this month.
The 25-year-old poet performed a sampling of spoken word poems and gave insight into the poems in her new release at a Politics & Prose event Tuesday at the University of the District of Columbia.
If you missed it, here’s a peek inside her new book:
Kaur began her program with a topic she is well known for writing about – love. Kaur specifically performed an unnamed poem that discusses how much it hurts when love is lost.
“I spent days in bed debilitated by loss/ I attempt to cry you back but the water is done/ And still you don’t return,” Kaur said.
Kaur said in another poem she performed that love is a “double-edged knife,” which elicited cheers and snaps from many audience members. But the expected lamenting did not last very long. Instead, Kaur moved on to discussing recovery and shared her own process of getting over difficult heartbreaks.
“When someone breaks up with me, by day two I am on the floor,” Kaur said between poems. “But hopefully, you reach a point where you just think, ‘I am stunning, and that person is just shit.’”
Kaur said she enjoys writing poetry because she is able to turn painful emotions into works that others can relate to.
“Breakups always suck,” Kaur said. “But I like to say that they build character and make for great books.”
The second chapter of five in “The Sun and Her Flowers” deals with a topic she said is “possibly too personal” – her insecurities. Kaur discussed how social media can sometimes highlight her insecurities and what people say about her online can really hit home.
“I used to be in this very bad habit of scrolling through my Instagram, and instead of focusing on the love, I would look for that one person who would say something really nasty,” Kaur said. “I can hear a thousand kind words about me and it makes no difference, yet I hear one insult, and all confidence shatters.”
Kaur also read a poem about her insecurities as a woman and explained her feelings about how the way the female body is thought of in American culture is damaging to women.
“I will not subject myself to their ideology cause slut shaming is rape culture/ And virgin praising is rape culture/ And I am not a mannequin in the window of your favorite shop,” she said.
Later in the night, Kaur read poems about her parents and said how much she appreciates the sacrifices they made to give her the opportunities she has today. Kaur and her family emigrated from India to Canada when she was four years old.
“Leaving her country was not easy for my mother/ I still catch her searching for it in foreign films and the international foods isle,” she said while reading an untitled poem.
Kaur’s appreciation for her family’s sacrifices have served as inspiration for her to make the most of her talents, she said. It is because of their hard work, she added, that she is able to stand in front of an audience and fearlessly say what she feels.
“No wonder I am starving to fill up on this life/ I have generations of bellies to eat for,” she said.