Sometimes it feels like Rupi Kaur says the things that we’ve all thought, but could never articulate. In fact, she has been called the “Patron Saint of Millenial Heartbreak.”
However, you don’t have to be a millennial to identify with Rupi Kaur’s poetry. As she shares her own transformative experiences, Rupi’s readers reflect on their own. The result? A new wave of empowerment. Readers of all backgrounds embrace their hardships and celebrate their achievements and life.
As we embrace the act of gratitude, we look to Rupi and find power in our own stories. Read on to learn more about our powerful #WCW, Rupi Kaur.
By: Emily Dinenberg
Rupi was born in Punjab, India, but later emigrated with her parents to Canada at the age of four. Her love of the arts began early on- Rupi often recalls her mother handing her a paintbrush, encouraging her to “draw her heart out.”
This love of art was integral to her own personal growth, as she wasn’t able to speak English with classmates. Rupi’s passion for drawing continued until the age of 17, when she discovered writing and performing her own original work.
What set Rupi apart from most published authors was her ability to embrace modern technology and a new type of audience.
Throughout high school she anonymously published her own work. But in 2013, Rupi began sharing her work on Tumblr under her own name. As she gained social media momentum, it was clear that Rupi was speaking to a demographic that had never fully been catered to. Rupi’s words didn’t involve intense analyzation and ambiguity. Rather, they directly addressed stories of pain and words of acceptance. As Rupi explained to Flare:
“I read that the thing we’re most afraid to say is the thing that’s most universal.”
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But this incredible new movement was not met without some hesitation.
In an interview with NPR Kaur states:
“I think the issue is because we have a form of art that is highly, highly traditional — meaning poetry — and then you have this other thing which is new and quite non-traditional, which is of course social media… the gate-keepers of these two things are kind of confused at this moment.”
But the uncertainty of this medium was no match for Rupi and her growing community. After completing her degree in rhetoric studies in 2014, she published her first collection of poems, Milk and Honey. It quickly became a #1 New York Times Best Seller. The book is described as an experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. As Flare.com explained:
“…the journey of empowerment Kaur offers genuinely resonates with young women who hear, perhaps for the first time, their own fears and joys echoed.”
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Rupi acknowledges that while our own individual dips and peaks in life may differ, we are united in our pain and joy.
We love Rupi because, through talent, dedication, and hard work, she has fostered a community that puts themselves, and their personal health, first. This is a new wave of self-care and power and a major takeaway from experiencing Kaur’s writing. Your story may be traumatic or charmed, long or short, seemingly dull or exciting, but regardless, it is your story to control and protect.
This idea is perfectly reflected in Rupi’s TEDTalk. She performed her piece “I’m Taking My Body Back,” and discussed her own experience with sexual violence. Kaur explained that she began writing as a method of coping. But rather than focus on the story of her pain, she took the narrative into her own hands and made it one of life.
“I’m trying to teach myself that, even if terrible things have happened to my body, I’m fine,” she says. “My heart is beating and I’m breathing, and nothing anybody has ever done has changed that.”
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In 2017 Kaur released her second book titled, The Sun and Her Flowers.
The title came to her immediately. As she recounts to TeenVogue:
“… I was thinking about the way sunflowers rotate with the sun. When the sun rises, they also rise, but when the sun leaves, they bow their heads… then I thought, “We are all our own suns and flowers are the experiences and the people we go through in our entire lifetime, so the sun and her flowers.”
just found out #thesunandherflowers debuts at #1 on the new york times bestsellers list. emotional. in disbelief. grateful and in awe of this life. thank you to each one of you. thank you to the entire team. i am still pinching myself and feeling so full. you make this girl’s dreams come true ❤❤❤😥😥😥🌻🌻🌻
The anthology follows five new chapters: “wilting”, “falling”, “rooting”, “rising” and “blooming.” It is founded in Rupi’s experiences in and out of love, as well as her changing relationships with the world her own complexity.
When asked if she had any advice for young readers navigating their own complexity, she responded:
“Oh my God, I feel like I need my own advice. I don’t even know if I can offer the right advice, but for me, what I do is [stay] rooted and [find] perspective. If you can take care of yourself, that means you can take care of the people around you and that’s kind of like a ripple effect, and maybe having conversations with the people around you. And if you are strong and grounded and rooted, then, I think, more people can reflect that as well.”
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Rupi’s desire for understanding of ourselves and others makes her our #WCW. Her work is powerful, but also human. She is a reminder that we are all capable of achieving understanding and power too.
Who inspires you to be the author of your own story? Let us know in the comments!