Every Friday I will be recommending a work of fiction or non-fiction written by a woman who has influenced and shaped my intersectional feminist perspective, with special emphasis on women of colour, women in translation, LGBTQIA women and women of different religions.
One of the most popular and successful ‘Insta-poets’ around, Rupi Kaur comes from a long tradition of confessional poets who draw deeply from their own personal experiences. Dealing with a range of topics that are – unfortunately – very common for a lot of women, Kaur tapped into the minds and consciousness of a generation. Adding beautiful illustrations to accompany her debut collection of poetry, her words are at times both poignant and empowering. From sexual assault to heartbreak, insecurities and societal expectations, Kaur aims to lift other women up in a world where women are often made to feel inferior or not good enough.
When reading Cheryl Strayed’s letters of advice, Dear Sugar, a few weeks back she mentioned to a twenty-something-year-old to read as much poetry as possible; to buy five volumes and read each five times over. There is much to admire and learn in poetry. I’ve always understood this, hence why I made a note of this particular piece of advice by someone who knows the value of poetry. But in my reading practice I have always avoided it. Perhaps stemming from the kind of poetry I studied in school and university, which was often impenetrable on a first reading, I found that it took a lot of effort on my part to crack open the meaning or emotion that the writer was trying to convey. However, milk and honey and the poetry I have since discovered (from Warsan Shire to Yrsa Daley-Ward), is in complete opposition to this. I devoured Kaur’s poetry in one very short, though terrifying, plane ride over a year ago now and I can still remember how it made me feel. Kaur doesn’t employ difficult language to get across difficult ideas. In plain, but no less beautiful, prose she is able to convey a wide range of emotions.
Rupi Kaur is an Indian-Canadian poet, illustrator and performer. Her first poetry collection, milk and honey, came out in 2014 and was followed by her equally successful second collection, the sun and her flowers, in 2017.