As poet Rupi Kaur proceeds from her American tour to Europe, her words continue to ripple through the lives of millions. Her writings of emotional abuse in relationships and negative self-perceptions have impacted lives on a personal level and stand as the truth that we as humans are never alone.
Her first book, “milk and honey,” was published over seven years ago on Nov. 4, 2014 and impacted countries around the world. Her revolutionary poems — oftentimes two to three lines — are accompanied with illustrations and trace the journey of going from an abusive relationship to learning how to love oneself again. Her first publication was followed by a second, third and fourth book titled, “the sun and her flowers,” “home body” and “Healing Through Words.”
So, what does this have to do with you?
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In an article written about the mental state of America, it is said that from April of 2020 to April 2021, symptoms of depression and anxiety rose from 11% to 40% and have yet to decrease. Rising numbers like these have been traced to the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase in gun violence and an increase in screen time. These current statistics affect people like you and me, along with Rupi Kaur.
Kaur writes of situations that allow for us to see through a window of her life. It’s as though being able to connect with someone who has gone through and healed from tumultuous times stands as an example that we, the readers, can do the same. In a PBS News Hour interview, Kaur said “I think people just want to feel understood and feel seen. It's what I want growing up. And so that's why I think the poetry works so well.”
As readers’ hands flip through the pages of her books, Kaur takes them through experiences of heartbreak, immigration, racism and sexism. Kaur speaks for those who have no voice, expressing how to love oneself through it all. Her thoughts within her writing are thoughts that should be heard by millions.
And people are listening.
Kaur is an example of a writer who was able to impact a wide array of people with social media, which is oftentimes claimed to have been the reason for her rise to fame. To this day, Kaur stands at 4.5 million followers on Instagram, an increase from her 3 million in 2018.
It is a known, stereotypical fact that for a person to be a poet, dreams of owning a yacht or living in a mansion are out of the picture. Even T.S. Elliot, one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, worked a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job at a foreign-transactions department as a means of making ends meet.
Kaur is proving those stereotypes wrong. By bringing her net worth up to $1.2 millions dollars, she is one of the few poets who has been able to make a comfortable lifestyle for herself from the power of her writing alone.
Stigmas around mental health seem to be slowly diminished each day by people like Rupi Kaur, and I hope they can inspire the continuation of normalizing self-healing for people like you and me, growing up in this world.
Carolyn Marshall (she/her) is a sophomore studying media studies with a focus in film, television and digital production with a minor in English.