My Story

My

Story

Rupi Kaur is a poet, artist, and performer.

As a 21-year-old university student Rupi wrote, illustrated and self-published her first poetry collection, milk and honey. Next came its artistic sibling, the sun and her flowers. These collections have sold over 8 million copies and have been translated into over 42 languages. Her most recent book, home body, debuted #1 on bestsellers lists across the world. Rupi’s work touches on love, loss, trauma, healing, femininity, and migration. She feels most at home when creating art or performing her poetry on stage.

Image of Rupi Kaur
Image of Rupi Kaur
Image of Rupi Kaur
Image of Rupi Kaur
Image of Rupi Kaur
Image of Rupi Kaur
Image of Rupi Kaur
Image of Rupi Kaur
Image of Rupi Kaur
Image of Rupi Kaur
Image of Rupi Kaur
kindpng_731990
kindpng_731990
Image of Rupi Kaur
Image of Rupi Kaur
component (9)
Image of Rupi Kaur
Image of Rupi Kaur
Image of Rupi Kaur
component (10)
Image of Rupi Kaur
Image of Rupi Kaur

F.A.Q.

F.A.Q

After writing and performing poetry for many years, I was inspired to publish my work. I was in writing workshops – that whole deal. I asked a creative writing professor what I needed to do in order to get published, and their response was don’t bother. I was told it was too difficult. They said poetry basically never got published. I was told that I had a better chance having individual poems published in literary journals, magazines, and anthologies. I then asked them if self-publishing was a good route to take. Immediately I was told – no. To surpass the gatekeeper would be looked down upon by my literary peers.

I started submitting individual poems to anthologies, magazines, and journals. The result was one rejection after another. As I was in the middle of picking and choosing which pieces to submit, I came upon a realization. I felt I was doing a disservice to my larger body of work by plucking pieces out of the collection, throwing them out there in the world, hoping they would land. I realized that my work read differently, when read in its entirety, and separating them didn’t make any sense. That’s when I set my eyes on self-publishing, regardless of what the creative writing professor had said. 

I couldn’t be held back by this gatekeeper who was never going to pay attention to me anyway. And so, I edited and designed the book, cover to cover over a span of one to two months.  

Then, in November 2014, I self-published using CreateSpace. My family, friends and I hand sold copies at local events, and we tried to get copies at local stores.  The hustle and bustle of those years has been one of my favorite memories till date.

When I began writing poetry, I could read and understand my mother tongue (Punjabi), but I hadn’t yet developed the skill set to write poetry in it. Punjabi is written in either Shahmukhi or Gurmukhi script. Within the Gurmukhi script, there are no uppercase or lowercase letters. The letters are treated the same. I enjoy this symplicity. It’s symmetrical and straightforward. I also feel there is a level of equality this visuality brings to the work. A visual representation of what i want to see more of within the world: equallness.

The only punctuation that exists within Gurmukhi script is a period – represented through the following symbol: | So in order to symbolize and preserve these small details of my mother language, I ascribe them within my work. No case distinction and only periods. A visual manifestation and ode to my identity as a diasporic Punjabi Sikh woman. It is less about breaking the rules of English (although that’s pretty fun) but more about tying in my own history and heritage within my work.

My

Story

Rupi Kaur is a poet, artist, and performer.

As a 21-year-old university student Rupi wrote, illustrated and self-published her first poetry collection, milk and honey. Next came its artistic sibling, the sun and her flowers. These collections have sold over 8 million copies and have been translated into over 42 languages. Her most recent book, home body, debuted #1 on bestsellers lists across the world. Rupi’s work touches on love, loss, trauma, healing, femininity, and migration. She feels most at home when creating art or performing her poetry on stage.

Rupi Kaur is a poet, artist, and performer.

As a 21 year old university student, Rupi wrote, illustrated, and self-published her first collection, ‘milk and honey’. Instant international bestsellers, these collections have sold over 8 million copies, and have been translated into over 40 languages.

Rupi’s work touches on love, loss, trauma, healing, femininity, and migration. She feels most at home when creating art or performing her poetry on stage.

Image of Rupi Kaur
Image of Rupi Kaur

after completing her degree in rhetoric studies she published her first collection of poems milk and honey in 2014. the internationally acclaimed collection sold well over a million copies gracing the new york times bestsellers list every week for over a year. it has since been translated into over thirty languages. her long-awaited second collection ‘the sun and her flowers’ was published in 2017. through this collection she continues to explore a variety of themes ranging from love. loss. trauma. healing. femininity. migration. ‘revolution.

rupi has performed her poetry across the world. her photography and art direction are warmly embraced and she hopes to continue this expression for years to come.

be sure to follow rupi on instagram and facebook for continuous updates.

Homepage_Flowers
Image of Rupi Kaur
Image of Rupi Kaur

I found art early. I started drawing and painting at a young age. I didn’t talk much. In highschool I began to make drawings, and in the corner of the page, I would write a small poem. I did this for years, making nothing of it.

Highschool was challenging. You know how it is. And if you’ve read my work, you know a little bit of my story. In twelfth grade, I had hit rock bottom for many reasons, and then the universe saved me. I saw a poster for a local open mic night happening in my community. I don’t know what possessed me to sign up. It was so out of character. I had never performed before. I had so much anxiety, but something greater took over. I wrote a terrible poem, which at the time I thought was amazing, and I went to the open mic with two of my friends. Everyone at the event was at least 5-10 years older than me, which isn’t a big deal now, but it is a big deal when you’re 17. On top of that, there were only 2-3 other women in the room apart from my two friends and I.

Image of Rupi Kaur
Image of Rupi Kaur

For the next six years while getting my degree in rhetoric studies at the university of waterloo, I organized community events, protests for a variety of human rights issues, and I processed all of it at the end of the day, by writing poems.

Sikh Activist Network not only gave me a place to recover from the pain of the genoocide which our people still carry, but it gave me the space to play and perform.

I performed mainly at public events in the city of Brampton, Toronto, and Mississauga. Kiran Rai, a friend of mine, was one of the first who pushed me to take my work online. She was one of the many young women artists around me. We were a large group of writers, musicians, photographers, painters. And Kiran said to me “you need to put your work online…more people need to hear it” She forced me to get a Facebook page, a youtube page, and she made me get rid of my anonymous tumblr blog, and told me I needed to start a new one, with my name, and take pride in my work.

 

Image of Rupi Kaur
Image of Rupi Kaur
component (19)

Still at this point, I considered it a hobby, and was thinking of a career as a human rights lawyer. Eventually, my online readers began asking me where the could purchase my book. I didn’t have a book, why were they asking me that? They just assumed that I did and that’s when the idea got planted into my head. Why didn’t I have a book published? Could I have a book published? What did that mean?

I had no money, I had no network, not resources. I didn’t know a single person who might be able to point me in the direction of a publisher or agent. We were a working class family. My dad was a truck driver and our whole circle was working class, blue collar factory worker types.

And so I turned to a professor who told me my best bet was to submit my poetry to anthologies and journals. Which I tried, and like every writer, I got rejected. I eventually just got tired of trying because I didn’t see how my poetry about rape, sexual abuse, violence, trauma, and self love was going to fit into their anthologies. They just didn’t publish work that looked like mine, that was written by people like me.

Image of Rupi Kaur

And that’s when I decided I had to self publish. I was warned against it. Told that self publishing meant I wasn’t a real author, I wouldn’t get the respect of a real author, and the gatekeepers wouldn’t appreciate it.

But what did I care? The gatekeepers didn’t represent me, they didn’t care, and they definitely weren’t going to notice me. I was a 21 year old brown woman in waterloo, Ontario, with about $500.00 to my name. And so in November 2014, I ended up self publishing my first book, Milk and honey, and my life was just never the same again.

Image of Rupi Kaur

I often get asked how milk and honey did what it did. How did a book of poetry, manage to sell over 5 million copies? And the answer is 1) I had no idea and 2) my readers. They championed, shared, and spread my work to those they loved like wildfire, and for that I am forever grateful.

I was starting my last year in university when I published. Still performing. Perming my poems live is really my first love. It’s where my poems come full circle. Last year was a worldwhild. I had published this book and was going to events with my family to perform, and they would table and handsell for me at the back. I was flying to different parts of the continent, I don’t even know how I managed to do a full courseload,

In March 2015, I was working on a school project for my visual rhetoric class. I was asked to

Image of Rupi Kaur
Image of Rupi Kaur

F.A.Q

F.A.Q.

After writing and performing poetry for many years, I was inspired to publish my work. I was in writing workshops – that whole deal. I asked a creative writing professor what I needed to do in order to get published, and their response was don’t bother. I was told it was too difficult. They said poetry basically never got published. I was told that I had a better chance having individual poems published in literary journals, magazines, and anthologies. I then asked them if self-publishing was a good route to take. Immediately I was told – no. To surpass the gatekeeper would be looked down upon by my literary peers.

I started submitting individual poems to anthologies, magazines, and journals. The result was one rejection after another. As I was in the middle of picking and choosing which pieces to submit, I came upon a realization. I felt I was doing a disservice to my larger body of work by plucking pieces out of the collection, throwing them out there in the world, hoping they would land. I realized that my work read differently, when read in its entirety, and separating them didn’t make any sense. That’s when I set my eyes on self-publishing, regardless of what the creative writing professor had said. 

I couldn’t be held back by this gatekeeper who was never going to pay attention to me anyway. And so, I edited and designed the book, cover to cover over a span of one to two months.  

Then, in November 2014, I self-published using CreateSpace. My family, friends and I hand sold copies at local events, and we tried to get copies at local stores.  The hustle and bustle of those years has been one of my favorite memories till date.

When I began writing poetry, I could read and understand my mother tongue (Punjabi), but I hadn’t yet developed the skill set to write poetry in it. Punjabi is written in either Shahmukhi or Gurmukhi script. Within the Gurmukhi script, there are no uppercase or lowercase letters. The letters are treated the same. I enjoy this symplicity. It’s symmetrical and straightforward. I also feel there is a level of equality this visuality brings to the work. A visual representation of what i want to see more of within the world: equallness.

The only punctuation that exists within Gurmukhi script is a period – represented through the following symbol: | So in order to symbolize and preserve these small details of my mother language, I ascribe them within my work. No case distinction and only periods. A visual manifestation and ode to my identity as a diasporic Punjabi Sikh woman. It is less about breaking the rules of English (although that’s pretty fun) but more about tying in my own history and heritage within my work.