Rupi Kaur in 2017
|Born||4 October 1992|
|Notable works||Milk and Honey, The Sun and Her Flowers|
Rupi Kaur (born October 4, 1992) (Punjabi: ਰੂਪੀ ਕੌਰ) is an Indian-born Canadian poet, writer, illustrator, and performer. She immigrated to Canada as a child and has since then, settled in Toronto. Her debut book, a collection of poetry and prose titled Milk and Honey, was published in 2014; it sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide and spent more than a year on The New York Times Best Seller list. Her second book, The Sun and Her Flowers, was published in 2017.
Kaur was born into a Sikh family in Punjab, India. She immigrated to Canada with her parents when she was four years old. Unable to speak English with other children at her school, Kaur was inspired by her mother to draw and paint. She would write poems to her friends on their birthdays and messages to her middle school crushes. She attended Turner Fenton Secondary School.
Kaur's first performance took place in 2009 in the basement of the Punjabi Community Health Centre in Malton. Among her more notable works is her photo-essay on menstruation, described as a piece of visual poetry intended to challenge prevalent societal menstrual taboos.
Throughout high school, Kaur shared her writing anonymously. In 2013, she began sharing her work under her own name on Tumblr. She took her writing to Instagram in 2014 and began adding simple illustrations.
Kaur's first book, an anthology titled Milk and Honey (stylized as milk and honey), was published on November 4, 2014. Her inspiration for the book's name came from a past poem which included a line about women surviving terrible times. She describes the change in the women as, "smooth as milk and as thick as honey." A collection of poetry, prose, and hand-drawn illustrations, the book is divided into four chapters, and each chapter depicts a different theme.
Book sales of milk and honey surpassed the 2.5 million copy mark. The book was on The New York Times Best Seller list for over 77 weeks. Milk and Honey has since been translated into 25 languages.
Her second book, The Sun and Her Flowers, was published on October 3, 2017. Works in this collection explore a variety of themes including loss, trauma, healing, femininity, migration and revolution.
As in Gurmukhi script, her work is written exclusively in lowercase, using only the period as a form of punctuation. Kaur writes this way to honour her culture. She has said that she enjoys the equality of letters and that the style reflects her worldview. Her written work is meant to be an experience that is easy for the reader to follow, with simple drawings to elevate her words.
Common themes found throughout her works include abuse, femininity, love, self-care, and heartbreak.
In March 2015, Kaur posted a series of photographs to Instagram depicting scenes of a woman's menstruation cycle. Consisting of six photos, the work titled "The Period." formed her final project for her undergraduate studies and depicted herself with menstrual blood stains on her clothing and bed sheets. Kaur wrote: “I see the way many communities avoid the menstruating women. In some societies a woman is not allowed out of her home on her period even to go to school, or she isn’t allowed to visit her religious place of worship because she’s considered dirty. […] By highlighting these distinct moments of the cycle that women go through I will be forcing viewers to look and tackle their fears head on.”
Kaur later revealed that the photos were removed by Instagram for not complying with the site's terms of service. She remarked: "thank you Instagram for providing me with the exact response my work was created to critique". Instagram responded offering Kaur an apology and claimed that the images were removed by mistake.
Kaur draws inspiration from various scholars including Kahlil Gibran, Alice Walker, and Sharon Olds. She has also been influenced by Sikh scriptures. The experience of learning English upon moving to Canada has influenced her writing style.
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- The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur, Andrews McMeel Publishing
- Kaur, Rupi (October 2017). the sun and her flowers (First ed.). London, New York, Sydney, Toronto, New Delhi: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4711-6582-5.
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