Skip to main content

Rupi Kaur: The 'Queen' of Instapoets

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

If you like what you read... then connect with me on Instagram. Search me up @ti_e_na

In March 2015, she posted pictures of her blood stained sheets and clothes to Instagram as part of a school project to challenge the taboos surrounding menstruation but had the picture taken down twice.

Rupi Kaur took to twitter to express her frustrations and regarded the act as ‘misogynistic’ as well as ‘an attack on my humanity’ of which Instagram apologized and brought back the images.

This response went viral attracting the attention of media houses like Jezebel, BBC amongst others as well as generating more followers for Kaur, which in turn increased the reach for Kaur’s poetry.

rupi-kaur-the-queen-of-instapoets-milk-and-honey-sun-and-her-flowers

About Rupi

Born in Punjab. India and later relocated to Canada at 3 with her family

The Toronto-based poet, author, photographer, performer and illustrator (which is seen from the drawings placed beside the poems in her books) began performing spoken word poetry in 2009 and eventually rose to prominence on Instagram by posting her poems and illustrations on the app.

Over time, she garnered so much success with up to 4.5 million followers and even the Rolling Stone declared her the ‘Queen of Instapoets’ I mean they can’t be too far from right anyway, being the poet to have stars such as Ariana Grande among her followers and all (Irony? She dislikes the term instapoet)

Books

She has three poetry collections to her name

  • Milk and Honey ; Which has sold over 3.5 million copies worldwide, translated into 40 languages and reached the number 1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list
  • The Sun and her Flowers ; Which was once put on an annual list for best books by Quill & Quire, also snagged number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list and has sold over 2 million copies worldwide
  • Home Body; Published post the Covid-19 pandemic as a response
rupi-kaur-the-queen-of-instapoets-milk-and-honey-sun-and-her-flowers

Writing

She explores themes such as her South Asian identity, migration, love, family, abuse, resilience, feminity, childhood, sensuality, trauma, healing and sacrifice among others in her poems

At 5 she took up the hobby of painting from her mother from there she also learnt to draw and make illustrations

She maintains that the environment she grew up in has been a great inspiration and determinant to her poetry. She seeks to preserve culture, fight against racism, ridicule to her accent and abuse as well as speak on identity, culture and family

She studied rhetoric and professional writing at the University of Waterloo, where she self-published Milk and Honey on Createspace in 2014 before it was picked up by Andrews McMeel publishing, a subsidiary of Simon and Schuster a year later

She writes her poetry primarily in lowercase alphabets in order to honor the Punjabi language as well as her roots

Her trademark move which has been likened to the use of a hashtag is ending her poems with an italicized line that either seeks to address its audience or articulate its theme

Reading always seemed to bring her solace as well as help fight the loneliness she felt and her participation in speech competitions from childhood helped her grow her confidence. All of which served as a stepping stone for Rupi’s performance career

rupi-kaur-the-queen-of-instapoets-milk-and-honey-sun-and-her-flowers

Since the publication of Milk and Honey, the poetry genre has become one of the best-selling areas in book publishing; which means that technically Rupi Kaur has paved a way for more instapoets to be heard, acknowledged and even make a living from their art.

Scroll to Continue

Among her successes include giving a TEDx talk, creation of her own company and acquiring a team of seven people to help her run it as well as manage her social media

She has also been praised for shaping the modern literary scene and has been featured on reputable places like BBC

Since the publication of Milk and Honey, the poetry genre has become one of the best-selling areas in book publishing; which means that technically Rupi Kaur has paved a way for more instapoets to be heard, acknowledged and even make a living from their art.

Among her successes include giving a TEDx talk, creation of her own company and acquiring a team of seven people to help her run it as well as manage her social media

She has also been praised for shaping the modern literary scene and has been featured on reputable places like BBC, Elle and Jimmy Fallon

In 2019, she was named as Writer of the Decade by The New Republic and while this was an immense honor, it brought back an ongoing debate on Kaur’s work.


In 2019, she was named as Writer of the Decade by The New Republic and while this was an immense honor, it brought back an ongoing debate on Kaur’s work.

rupi-kaur-the-queen-of-instapoets-milk-and-honey-sun-and-her-flowers

Career Challenges

In the past (and even the present), She has been accused for plagiarizing the work of another poet, Nayyariah Waheed as similarities were seen in their works; from the line breaks to the short form poetry consisting of just one line.

This issue was brought up as well as the issue of Kaur having oversimplified poetry that served more as memes rather than a work of art

In her defense, she maintained that she strived to make relatable as well as accessible poetry to everyone, which is why she writes in the style she does; avoiding the complex metaphors and expressions which might throw people off especially people learning English

As a child, she spent so much time analyzing poetry, it felt like ‘doing surgery on the damn thing’ so she might have just wanted to be more straightforward with her art

Aside from the claims of plagiarism and over simplicity in her poems, she has also being hassled for her line breaks in poetry of which she was trolled online with parodies of it.

rupi-kaur-the-queen-of-instapoets-milk-and-honey-sun-and-her-flowers

She has been said to lack originality in her work, one person saying that most of her short poems are things any one could have written, even as a teen

And at another time, she was trolled for the way she performed her poetry and it was this widespread disdain that Rupi faced over time that was said to have contributed to her anxiety and depression

rupi-kaur-the-queen-of-instapoets-milk-and-honey-sun-and-her-flowers

Despite the backlash she might face, there are still many strong supporters of hers.

So whether or not she is the it poet for people, she certainly has garnered sufficient attention in the literary world which only seems to be growing and reaching further.


Related Articles