Instapoet — Rupi Kaur, Poet of Modern Times
Who is this rookie poet, Rupi Kaur whose books ‘milk and honey’ and ‘the sun and her flowers’ were New York Times bestseller? If you haven’t heard of her, you might be missing out on one of the most famous instapoet. She is a social media sensation who updated posts, in this case, poetry verses to be uploaded on her account and this seems to me like poetry which is art is turning into an industry on social media. I came across this poet while scanning through books in bookshelves of several book stores (since I am miles away from social media, not my cup of tea) and around the same time a friend mentioned her during our book discussion and then I indulged in her book with few lines each page alongside with illustrations.
Kaur’s poetry themes have made her one of the most revered poets of the modern time. She rose to fame from sharing her poems on Instagram which was like a fresh voice in literature. No one ever thought, literature to be connected with the current trending social media to give rise to such huge fan following and sell out 3 million copies of her first book; ‘milk and honey’. Traditionally, poetry is imagined to be as a content existing in a vacuum, where the writer is shut in to ponder about life and truths and penning it down on a paper or years of crafting of words by deeply engaging in reading literature and feeling life in its deepest form. But, this young 26-year poetess has achieved a rare feat of poetry: Popularity by posting poems on social media. She writes about the current reality and connects with the youth through her poetic verses covering varied themes: love, relationships, rejection and also the darker side of abuse, racism, beauty, colour, and acceptance in the society which all the young women go through in their lives silently. She has written stances of what women come to experience in their lives with men and other women. Simplistic like black & white, Kaur became echoing the voice of these emotions about womanhood which resonates with young readers deeply who follow her on Instagram and her fans who show up during her poetry reading. This book of poems written by the feminist poet is like a perhaps inevitable view of how this misogynistic society treats and dismisses women in ways men haven’t known in thousands of years.
When it comes to writing style, deeper meaning, personification or any other literary rules around which poems were written, Kaur’s poems are plain text, with no punctuations and attention to grammar, which will not make a reader go aw. Her writings are very direct with no structure or poetic rhythm. The epiphany is very ordinary and they are very candid in sharing the message with a larger audience who are primarily young women of maybe teens and early 20s. Her style of writing has rawness and spontaneity in it which is the imagery of how the world treats young women especially colored and celebrates femininity in a way poetic literature hasn’t witness in this modern era.
In the internet age, Kaur has captured the audience from varied cultures and countries unifying them using her poet. She is reaching out to the non-readers of olden literature by capturing their attention on the phones through social media which in the modern age is a quick consumption of bite-sized lyrics. She has gained an undebatable set of fans on Instagram as well as people who appear in the poetry reading tours Kaur has been taking ever since she has known fame after the launch of “Milk & Honey”. In the most sincere and honest critique of her writing and her story of fame, I feel she has opened a new channel giving poetry a chance, and voice to the toxic snobbery and male domination.
When it comes to Kaur’s recitation it is empowering and engaging as she sways as she reads, like a tree in the wind and closes her eyes while she feels deeply — this young poetess who started writing poetry for catharsis, decided to self-publish her first book because of the backlash of the publishers who told her there was no market audience for her content — a journey of loss and healing for an immigrant woman of colour. That’s what we need in this modern era; to feel deeply, to connect deeply and to recover stronger than ever before. Rupi’s work of simple words takes us by the hand and leads us through.