Do you remember that discussion on the internet about how the world at large is always so eager to dismiss and mock the things that young girls love? I think about that a lot, and have tried harder to not do that myself. So, when I heard Rupi Kaur reading her poems on CBC Radio, talking about her youth and success and her dreams, I decided to give The Sun and her Flowers a try.
This is Rupi Kaur’s second book; her first book Milk and Honey was an enormous success, selling over 2.5 million copies. I think that is quite remarkable – she is a 25 year old Indo-Canadian woman experiencing great literary success. She started publishing via Tumblr and Instagram, illustrating her poems with her own simple line drawings.
I haven’t read poetry very seriously since university, but I am pretty sure that her poetry isn’t very good. She writes entirely in lower case, having stated it honors her culture’s Gurmukhi script. That may be true, but that combined with her random line breaks makes it feel quite unsophisticated. Her writing is not especially subtle, not using particularly interesting imagery and using repetitive phrasing throughout. I did not count the times she writes a version of “spread legs,” for example. She spends much of the book talking about her own experiences with relationships, assault and femininity. It all feels SO YOUNG. It feels exactly like the statements in a funky font on a plain white background or possibly an out of focus woman jumping in the air. YOUNG. I worry I seem dismissive, but she isn’t presenting anything that I haven’t either read about quite a lot or I haven’t experienced myself. Maybe I am just too old.
All that being said, I quite liked some of the poems (or at least the ideas contained in them), particularly those talking about her experiences as an immigrant and as the child of an immigrant particularly. Maybe this is also a function of my age, but I think that the immigrant experience and how a child’s understanding of their parents change over time is quite interesting. I wish there was more of this in the book, but there are only a few. I did not love it, but maybe it really means something to someone else, and that is ok.
CBR10 Bingo: Underrepresented