Rupi Kaur is a poet, writer, illustrator and performer. Her experience of being a woman is the thing that has most informed her writing. Common themes found throughout her works include abuse, femininity, love, self-care, and heartbreak.
Rupi was born in Punjab, India and immigrated to Toronto, Canada with her family when she was just 4 years old. Throughout high school, she shared her writing anonymously. Her writing draws inspiration from various scholars including Kahlil Gibran and is influenced by Sikh scriptures. As in Gurmukhi script, her work is written exclusively in lowercase, using only the period as a form of punctuation. Rupi writes this way to honour her culture.
In 2013, Rupi began sharing her work under her own name on Tumblr, and then took her writing to Instagram in 2014 and began adding simple illustrations. 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, and has since been translated into 25 languages. 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.”
In March 2015, Kaur posted a series of self-portrait photographs to Instagram depicting herself with menstrual blood stains on her clothing and bed sheets. Described as a piece of visual poetry, it formed her final project for her undergraduate studies and is considered as among her more notable works, intended to challenge prevalent societal menstrual taboos. ⠀
“I don’t fit into the age, race or class of a bestselling poet,”
Instagram banned the self-portrait photographs initially. When Rupi took a stand against Instagram, pointing out the hypocrisy of a platform that hosted sexual images of women yet censored a typical female experience. Instagram brought back the images, and apologised.