A Criticism of Rupi Kaur and the Culture of Insta-Poets

By Kirk Love ’20 and Jon Ross ’20

bland and boring

my heart sobs

for

chicken

-kirk love

Inspiration drawn from Rupi Kaur’s infamous published book, Milk and Honey.

rupi kaur

The Canadian-Indian poet Rupi Kaur rose to fame through her simplistic, banal poems, which are coupled with child-like drawings. Of course, it should go without saying that it is wonderful to see a young, immigrant, female author achieve this level of recognition for her work, and the meaning that thousands of young adults have gleaned from publications such as Milk and Honey surely somewhat validates her poetry and distinctive style. However, after reading her poetry, it’s evident that she employs basic language and simplistic themes in order to target a niche market of aspiring, Tumblr-loving, “woke” poets. The primary issue with her body of work is that her poems lack significance. Her poems are surface-level and lack serious depth, which is what ultimately makes them accessible to those that get frustrated with sophisticated, well-crafted poetry. But, poetry is supposed to be challenging– to an extent. Poetry is about unpacking the language, discussing different interpretations and having those “aha!” moments that make literature so enjoyable. Kaur’s poems, on the other hand, don’t foster any discussion since quite literally anyone can understand her work without any effort. Below is a sample of her poetry; you can see the banal and overly-simple nature of her poetry for yourself.

Although what Kaur says in this poem is clearly agreeable and relatable to people struggling in unhealthy romantic relationships, it is not at all insightful or profound in any fashion. In fact, its very well-defined agreeability is exactly what makes the poem meritless –– it adds nothing, it tells the reader nothing. Of course, the poem –– her poetry generally –– could have a subjective worth to someone who simply wants their own opinions or emotions reiterated clearly, but Kaur forgoes the necessary obfuscation and abstraction that defines thought-provoking, powerful poetry. Emotions sometimes can feel very simple, but their very nature requires the complexity of good poetry to describe their meaning. Kaur’s poetry, designed for rapid public appeal and financial gain, willfully doesn’t delve into this intricacy.

Rupi Kaur has amassed over 3.6 million Instagram followers but instead of praising Kaur, we should be celebrating the work of other talented, revered poets such as Sarah Kay (link: http://kaysarahsera.com/), a female poet who wants to educate and empower students and teachers worldwide. There are so many worthwhile poets out there, people!

With that being said, here is a collection of our Kaur-inspired poetry:

astro

yeah

sun is down

freezin’ cold

that’s how we

already

know

-kirk love

 

my heart has been broken

      wave

my mother gave birth to me

i want to drink. milk with honey

-“jon” ross

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