Poet and performer Rupi Kaur on the reality of going on tour, and the shared experience that she honors in her work
When we think of poetry, it’s easy to imagine serious stanzas that we decipher in stiff lecture halls. Enter Rupi Kaur, a Punjabi Sikh immigrant from Canada, who has disrupted the modern literary world with her brand of approachable poetry.
You might not admit it, but you know who Rupi Kaur is. You’ve seen her bite-sized poems and snippets of her performances go viral on social media. You’ll find mutuals that have definitely reposted her words (and accompanied illustrations) after a breakup, International Women’s Day or as a motivational good morning message. This is “Insta-poetry”, where writers publish their poems on social media to gain traction, and millions of devotees. Where does Rupi Kaur stand in all of this? She’s a trailblazer who self- published her debut poetry collection milk and honey when she was still in university, when creative writing professors made it clear no one would be interested. She’s a modern-day Bard decked in custom-made dresses that demand a stage big enough to hold all that she brings to the table — this is the Queen B of all of the Instapoets.
The truth is, Rupi Kaur is a dazzling yet polarizing figure that has spawned never- ending think pieces about her cult-like status and her simplistic style of poetry. For every critic that insists on checking her to abide by poetry’s “rules”, there is a fan that will drown all that noise with social media reposts, tattoos of her illustrations and tickets to her live performances. She’s also sold more than ten million copies of her three poetry collections (milk and honey, the sun and her flowers, home body), singlehandedly transforming the way many people relate to poetry. Or read books. The numbers say so.
It is the universal themes that Rupi Kaur touches on — love, loss and healing, among others — that make her live performances a compelling, and cathartic experience. We have a friendly, and frank chat with Rupi to find out more as she makes her way through her World Tour stops, expected to roll over to Europe until end of October 2022.
Read the full interview, only on The Laterals Magazine Issue 07.
Pre-order The Laterals Magazine Issue 07 featuring Rupi Kaur below!
Photographer Sylvè Colless / Sibling Artists
Editor-at-Large Juliet Vo
Interview Sarah Rostam
Hair Sabrina Porche / Mane Addicts
Makeup Kirin Bhatty / A-Frame
Photo assistant Yolanda Leaney
Fashion assistant Christina Nguyen