Considering Rupi Kaur’s last book release was in 2017 I can admit that I am pretty late to the party by commenting on her work. However, after photos of her poems were making repeated appearances on my Instagram feed it made me think about the poetry of this generation and where it is heading. I would like to emphasise that my comments are purely my opinion on the literary quality of her poems, and not her as person. The success that she has made for herself is only admirable, and she obviously has worked hard to achieve it. That being said we can get on with the actual post.
Milk and Honey has sold 3.5 million copies worldwide, and has been translated into 40 languages. The Huffington Post dubbed her writing as ‘essential reading for women everywhere’ but I don’t know if I would agree with the use of the word essential. My opinion is that Kaur’s poetry consists mostly of Instagram captions disguised as poems. And while the short and simple writing can be appealing, when reading them I get the impression that they were written to sell well rather than because they are a true reflection of her thoughts. To me poetry isn’t about being basically four lines of texts that lacks in punctuation, but about a deeper interpretation within each sentence.
It is obvious though why her poetry has gained such popularity, and it is because of teenage girls being able to relate to it. The themes in her poems range from love, sexism, family, racism, heartbreak and more. If you are, or have ever struggled with any of these, then you will find her poems engaging. And maybe I’m in the minority when I say this, but though I can relate to the subjects in her poems, they do not help to cope with any of the issues. My self-worth didn’t increase when I read her poem that sounds almost exactly like the phrase ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. (See first poem below) But as a generalisation I have more of a problem with her short poems, as some of them seem almost pointless.
Undoubtedly, Kaur is the most popular young female poet at this moment in time. She is said to have made £1m from her last book alone which is almost unheard of for a female poet. The age demographic she appeals to is young women aged 13-14, who have become the biggest consumers of poetry in the UK market. This is fantastic news for the world of poetry, and I applaud Kaur for being able to excite poetry in the minds of young people again. That is something poems from the likes of John Keats or William Wordsworth would never be able to achieve. There has been an influx in females opening their own poetry publishing companies to make up for the obvious gap in the market. The success of Kaur with young girls created a market for other women to appeal to. These are all wondering things, and for me the best thing that has come from Rupi Kaur’s popularity.
Though I regard most of her work to be too plain I have to include some of her poems that I did enjoy and had all her work been like this I probably would not be writing this post. The poem above and below this text are two that I think articulated some of the important issues women face everyday.
In conclusion, I hope that this movement that Kaur has helped create continues to excel in celebrating and recognising more female poets. Below are links to some other poems from female poets that I think are worth a read.
- Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
- Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath
- Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
- Remember by Christina Rossetti
- The House by Warsan Shire
Until next time,