Written By | Andrew Spiess
Rupi Kaur is the most famous modern poet, hitting stages to perform her poetry in front of audiences worldwide, and presale tickets are now available for her fall American Tour. The tour consists of ten dates in ten of the biggest cities in the nation, beginning in New York in late September and concluding in Washington D.C. in October.
Kaur is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of “Milk and Honey”, her first collection of poetry released in 2014, and “The Sun and Her Flowers”, her latest collection, released last year. Her fans and even non-fans see her as the one to bring poetry back into mainstream culture and considering her millions of followers on Instagram, she really is a pop culture phenomenon. It’s been a long time since the world has seen a poet that upholds an image even remotely close to celebrity status.
The 25-year-old’s immense fame is significant considering the poetry market’s lack of contemporary appeal, but it comes from an unusual place for a poet: social media. It’s true that Rupi Kaur’s fame comes from persistent self-marketing. Her persona isn’t something made up. It’s her true self, but it’s also a product she’s offering, along with her poetry. You can tell by the way her Instagram account is structured: poetry interspersed with images of herself.
She has been dubbed an “Instapoet” — a new movement of poets who publish through mediums such as Instagram and Tumblr — which, coupled with her highly simplistic writing style, leads critics to inquire if her popularity is justified. Despite her exceptional following, she has received an exceptional amount of negative criticism to match. Actually, all of the Instapoets have been met with backlash, their poetry dismissed as bogus and cheap.
Kaur’s poetry is easy to swallow, written in simple language and often only a few lines long, which gives her poems an aphoristic quality. Her poetry is self-reflective, carrying an inspirational tone, and her use of words is nothing more than accessible. The Canadian poet’s critics question the authenticity of her eloquence, claiming that there is a severe loss of intellectuality due to an over-simplistic style. The poems in her books and on her Instagram account are accompanied by her own illustrations, which look like doodles in a middle school girl’s notebook, and honestly, it is hard to say whether this is charming or overly adolescent.
But the truth is that this style appeals to a specific audience that feeds her fame gratuitously: teenagers and girls in their early twenties. These are most of her fans and it makes sense that they are the people who love her aesthetic. Much of her thematic content appeals to young girls. She often touches on subjects relating to love, sex, rejection, femininity and female empowerment. Kaur even gets heavier with her material, writing about abusive relationships and the difficulties of migrant families, both subjects in which she holds personal involvement, and she always seems to bring her poems to a point of empowerment. There is a lot of good in the way she values and promotes self-improvement and self-love.
Onstage, Rupi Kaur is more than a poet. She is an entertainer, a performer. Starting off as a spoken word artist, she has a breezy presence and a pinned-down vocal delivery. The way her voice rides her words is songlike and enraptured. Her body sways when she speaks and her hands gesture gently. She even incorporates music and projections in her performances. Highly outspoken, Kaur is charismatic in a conversational young girl kind of way, filling the spaces between her poems with personal anecdotes. There’s no doubt that she’s ambitious and it’s apparent in her performances.
Here is a link to her Instagram account if you’re interested in reading some of her work. Tickets for Rupi Kaur’s American Tour go on sale to the public on August 3rd at 10am.
Four dates have been added to the tour:
Sept. 27 – New York, NY
Sept. 29 – Madison, WI
Oct. 22 – Austin, TX
Oct. 30 – Washington D.C.