Oct 18th, 2017, 02:07 PM

Feminist Poetry: An Insight

By Signi Livingstone-Peters
Image Credit: Flickr/Sarah Mason
Rupi Kaur and things we don't talk about: poetry connoisseurs and novices alike are finding inspiration.

At 24, Indian-Canadian Rupi Kaur, author of "milk and honey" and most recently, "The Sun in Our Flowers," stands as one of the most popular female writers of our time. She is hailed by fans for her fiercely personal writing and fearlessness of sharing her deepest traumas through a unique poetic style. As a bracingly diverse voice in the poetry scene, Kaur writes on feminist issues, from challenging patriarchy and misogyny to sexual abuse, rape, and love, through notably simple yet powerful poems.

"It is part of the
human experience to feel pain
do not be afraid
open yourself to it"
evolving - rupi kaur

In 2015, Kaur uploaded a photo of herself designed as part of a photo series to expose taboos regarding menstruation. The photo pictured Kaur in bed, with spots of blood visible on both her pants and the sheets. The photo was removed by Instagram twice for violating community standards, yet Kaur and enraged internet users challenged the removal. Instagram apologized to Kaur and claimed that the removal was an accident.

Image Credit: Flickr/Ica Rchid

Soon after the photo went viral, it gained support and attention from media outlets such as BBC Newsbeat, Jezebel, and the Huffington Post—all lauding Kaur for taking steps in lifting taboos surrounding female menstruation. With a larger fan-base, Kaur released an updated version of "Milk and Honey" which has now sold over a million copies; even reaching the New York Times bestseller list. Her second book, "The Sun in Our Flowers," was released on October 3.

Image Credit: Flickr/Krista P

"Her writing is almost cheesy, but in a refreshingly way," says Katie Zambrano.

"You don't see writing like that published often unless someone is making a joke out of it," Leona Caanen, AUP student, and poetry lover finds Kaur an inspiration to not only women but men. "I haven't read either of her books," Caanen says. "But I've always read her poems because I see them on Facebook or Tumblr. I think it's definitely a good start for change because Kaur's style makes it almost 'pretty', but her prettiness doesn't lose the boldness of the messages she's trying to convey."

"I think that if not only women but men were to read her poems, they would understand more about the female mind in general." 

"The thing Kaur exceeds at is describing is the deep emotions of people, and I think that people relate to her so much because of the way she writes about them–it's almost as if she takes your emotions, and finds the perfect words to describe them."

I sat down to interview Camila Craig, a Peruvian-American living in Paris and a recently published author. 

Image Credit: Twitter.com/CamilaCraig

At 19, Craig has published "Hablemos del Tiempo", a Spanish poetry book. Strikingly similar to Kaur, Craig’s poetry is intensely personal, sharp, and powerful.

"I want to apologize to all my lovers
for tattooing myself
in their blood"
"Sorry Not Sorry"- Poem Credit: Camila Craig

How would you describe Kaur’s writing style?

“I would say she is very minimalist... sort of raw. She’s very direct; I feel like she says what everyone thinks, but don’t know how to put into words. So in that sense, I think her writing is very real.”

Has her writing been an inspiration to yours? Has it pushed you to write about and expose more personal things in your own book?

“I had actually never read her before until this past month. The similarities between our work really shocked me—like the lack of punctuation, formatting. Or the really sharp sentences that strike the reader. I really like to read work that’s similar to my own, it’s reassuring in a way. It makes me feel like I have future in the writing world, seeing someone that writes like me. Especially someone like Kaur that's so big, and important right now.  After I started reading her, I started writing for myself in a more personal way, about more intimate experiences. So in that sense, she has truly  helped me to become more honest with myself through my writing.”

Kaur says that not only women should read her book, but men as well. Do you agree?

“Yes, I agree one hundred percent. I feel like most women understand the struggle that we all go through—the female population in particular, but naturally, men don’t really understand it in the same way. If you see laws or legislation, it’s almost always male politicians that are against abortion, birth control, and other female rights. It’s shocking that they can make these judgemental calls without truly understanding what it’s like to be a woman. Even in society, I’ve encountered comments, some even from my own friends from school, that have sounded sort of machismo sourced or unequal, and I feel like that’s something that we need to change—something that could be changed by men reading feminist poetry- especially something as raw and deeply emotional as Kaur. But in any case, reading is just good for the soul. So, I think if you can write something that could inspire people to change, that’s pretty big.”

"I pick up the forgotten breadcrumbs from the plate with my index finger
the same way I sip on my afternoon coffee
and enjoy the quietude of an empty living room
I wear the same old band t-shirts I wore
and cry to the same folk songs I cried to
when I was fifteen years old
There is something extremely delicate
about the blue of the sky after the rain has passed
the same way I still feel your hands
breezing through my naked shoulders
as we wake up
            on separate beds
in different ends of the world"
"How to Draw an Accurate Sketch of Pangea"- Poem Credit: Camila Craig

Rupi Kaur's poems not only bring to light the voices of women in the 21st century but highlight the outstanding strength of women whilst working to defeat stigmas that have existed for generations through her social media presence and raw poetry.