Kids Corner


Rupi Kaur’s ‘Milk & Honey’ Is One of Top 10 Bestselling Poetry Books In The USA:
New York Times





According to The New York Times, three of the top 10 bestselling poetry books in the US at present have been written by poets at the forefront of the Instapoet movement.

Rupi Kaur. Lang Leav. Tyler Knott Gregson.

All of them wear their hearts on their sleeves and write lyrically on themes of love, loss and loneliness.

Rather than fill their Instagram feeds purely with selfies, they take photos of snippets of their poetry, sometimes handwritten or typed in black and white, and they receive thousands of likes for each one from fans all over the world. Thousands more unpublished would-be poets are attempting to do the same and posting their efforts, good and bad, under various hashtags like #instapoetry or #instagrampoetry.

Rupi Kaur, an artist and poet who lives in Toronto, Canada, says on her website that she writes about the “experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity”.

She already made headlines through her Instagram account earlier this year, when she posted a picture of herself in bed with a small amount of menstrual blood staining her pyjamas and sheets, a photograph which Instagram temporarily banned.

Now though, her feed is mostly about her writing. Her latest Instagram poem reads:

i am sorry this world / could not keep you safe / may your journey home / be a soft and peaceful one.

It is accompanied by her hand-drawn illustration of a globe, countries hit by terror attacks marked with little black hearts. At the time of writing, it had received 33,300 likes.

Rupi Kaur’s poetry collection, ‘Milk & Honey‘, was an Amazon bestseller when it was first released last year.  She began by self-publishing her work; now, her publisher is Andrews McMeel.

On her website, she writes (all in lower case, as is her style): “there was no market for poetry about trauma abuse loss love and healing through the lens of a punjabi-sikh immigrant woman. so i decided to self publish. even though everyone said not to cause doing so would lock me out of prestigious literary circles.”

Despite their popular success, the Instapoets’ style of angsty heartbreak poetry and daily outpourings of emotion is not to everyone’s taste. Nor do they undergo the same rigorous revising processes of more conventional poets.

Gregson has said he never edits his 17-syllable haiku – “because it felt like betraying the exact emotion of the time” – and Leav says anything she posts online should be considered a first draft.

So, does Instapoetry live up to literary critique?

“It’s important to remember that poetry is not just about the uncontrolled expression of how you feel, but how you shape that expression,” says Rishi Dastidar, assistant editor at the poetry magazine, the Rialto. “What makes you a poet is learning the craft, spending time reading other poets and bringing writerly tools to the emotions you are trying to convey. I think it’s great if people are enjoying poetry through social media but the next step would be to read more poetry and understand what else is out there. Contemporary poets offline are incredibly vibrant – it’s just directing people into that world.”

Still, the Instapoets are doing what surely every poet wants to achieve: connecting with and moving their readers – and achieving commercial success with it.

“It’s actually a great subversion of the debates on narcissism and self-obsession which always accompany social media,” says Dastidar. “Posting a poem instead of a selfie means you are asking people to engage with you at a deeper level, and that sort of subversion is part of poetry’s tradition.”

[Courtesy: The Guardian. Edited for]
November 24, 2015

Conversation about this article

Comment on "Rupi Kaur’s ‘Milk & Honey’ Is One of Top 10 Bestselling Poetry Books In The USA:
New York Times "

To help us distinguish between comments submitted by individuals and those automatically entered by software robots, please complete the following.

Please note: your email address will not be shown on the site, this is for contact and follow-up purposes only. All information will be handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy. Sikhchic reserves the right to edit or remove content at any time.