The Poetry of Rupi Kaur

There’s a poet that always inspires me; she has grace and eloquence, rawness and authenticity. Her name is Rupi Kaur. I first encountered Rupi through a controversial post a few years back. She had posted a picture of herself lying on her bed, and a spot of blood was visible on her backside as well as on her bed sheets. She had posted the picture on Instagram, with a description of her reasoning, saying that “my womb is home to the divine”. Instagram deleted the picture, saying that it violated their policies, but then after a huge backlash, it reversed its decision and permitted it.

I started reading Rupi’s poetry on Facebook, and fell madly in love. She truly has a gift with words – so true and straight from the heart and clearly from personal experience, from deeply held feelings that she courageously shares with the world. Rupi has suffered from sexual abuse, a lot of heartbreak, yet has also experienced a lot of joy and inner awakening, which shines through in her writing.

Now that she is super famous, I always forget that she is Canadian! Born in Punjab, her family eventually moved to Brampton, and she now lives in Toronto. And she even attended the same university as I did – the University of Waterloo! She did an arts major there, and it was actually her fourth year project that inspired the Instagram post.

The only person I know that loves her as much as I do is my friend Melinda. Over the years we have exchanged texts with her words, with cheesy responses like “YESSSS” and “so soulful”. When I discovered that Rupi would be reading her poetry at the Reference Library in T.O., I instantly messaged Melinda and asked if she was free. She couldn’t make it, but I took both of our copies of Milk and Honey, and went to get them signed.

When I first arrived, it was to a packed house. The most packed house I’d ever seen at the Reference Library. She was reading one of my favourite poems of hers.

Ahhhhh I could listen to those words over and over. Here they are in written form:

I do not want to have you
to fill the empty parts of me
I want to be full on my own
I want to feel so complete
I could light a whole city
and then
I want to have you
’cause the two of
us combined
could set
it on fire
— Rupi Kaur

As the reading was coming to an end, I saw a line forming and realized that it was for her book signing. I jumped into line, and I’m glad I did because it eventually grew and grew and winded around the entire first floor of the library. People waited for hours!

When I got to the front, Rupi greeted me with a beautiful smile and asked how I was doing and then signed my book with a personalized message. She was very warm, and I’m not sure how she managed to stay so calm and happy while signing literally hundreds of books. There are certain people that bring their full presence to whoever they come in contact with. It’s truly a gift.

Meeting Rupi Kaur, Toronto Reference Library, April 2016

Here are a few of my other favourite poems of hers:

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Some poets have been angered by Rupi’s success, possibly out of jealousy, but also because they think that the skill required for her type of work is not as involved, or as technical as ‘real poetry’. But that’s the thing about poetry — the best stuff comes from the heart yet is somehow also technically flawless – it has that magical quality that you can’t put your finger on. Although it can definitely be emulated. There are many poets now that use the same style, and they become instant hits on Instagram and get thousands of likes.

As for me, I’m not totally sure about my style yet – sometimes I use rhyme, sometimes prose, and sometimes I try and emulate a poet that inspires me, while bringing my own style to to the mix. Maybe one day I will also read to a packed house! ;-)


“I’ve only ever fallen in love with geminis” he once told me.
I flashed my eyes at him. He had my attention.
Ummmm what is that supposed to mean, I wondered. What was he
trying to tell me? Did that mean we were destined to be
together, that I was the next gemini on the list.
Did that mean that the stars had already decided long
ago, or was it all just a tease,
Meant to lead me astray.
He shook his head in disbelief as he looked at me.
He almost couldn’t believe it himself.
You know, and you’re all so similar.
Love to travel, Athletic (Really? Me?),
You want to change the world,
Well maybe he didn’t say that last one,
I just wished it.
Did that make me just like the others?
Just another gemini?
or were all the others
just a dry run
For me.


I wrote this fictional short story as an assignment for one of my classes at U of T, Generating Stories, taught by Ken Murray. Some stories tend to stay inside of us until the time is right to share them.

“Here’s a story I never told anyone.”

We were sitting around the campfire and I broke out of my trance when I heard my friend Matt say that. He threw a couple more pieces of wood into the fire and we waited, watching the embers rise up into the sky and scurry through the air like fireflies. We had just finished singing Hallelujah and there was a somber and reflective mood in the air. The brightest star I had ever seen shone in the night sky. The pole star.

“It happened back when I was a kid, growing up in Cape Breton.” He paused and smiled, the memories flooding back to him as he thought back to his happy childhood. Then his brow furrowed and his face tensed, as another memory struck him.

“There was a girl on the island that lived down the street from us. Her name was Julie. She was eleven, a little younger than me, with long brown hair and light brown eyes. Her parents home-schooled her, so I only saw her when all the kids played outside on our street. One day after everyone had gone inside after a street hockey game, only she and I remained, standing on the sidewalk. We just stood there face to face, not knowing what to say, and feeling like we knew each other from another life. She suddenly became shy, and said she had to go and I watched her run home.”

“She became my best friend. We started high school together, which was a tough transition for her. We were pretty anti-social in high school. I mean we had friends, but really only looked forward to spending time with each other. Eventually I had to leave the island when my father got a job in Toronto, the summer I turned fifteen. We wrote each other every week. Then after awhile her letters became more infrequent, until one day they stopped altogether.”

Everyone’s eyes got a little wider. I looked down at my arms and realized I had goosebumps.

“I was totally devastated. I didn’t know what to do, so I kept writing. Every week. I just didn’t send the letters. Writing to her was the only way I knew how to express myself. For years I wrote to her. It wasn’t until I met Lindsay that I stopped.”

“So what happened to the letters?” someone asked.

“I kept them. And then a few years ago, I heard from a friend who’d grown up with us that she had spiralled into a really bad place; she suffered from depression and was addicted to painkillers. Her parents had died in a car crash. I wondered if there was anything I could do. Then it struck me – I had to give her the letters. I located her address and I sent her a package. There were 136 letters in total. I waited for months, hoping for a reply, but I never heard from her.”

We fell silent, disappointed by the story’s ending.

“Until last week.”

I exhaled, relieved. “What happened?” I said with anticipation.

“She said that she’d waited so long to reply because she was so overwhelmed that she had to give it time before she could express her gratitude. She said that the letters carried her through the hardest time of her life, while she was facing her demons, getting help, and struggling just to get from day to day. Initially she had wanted to read all the letters at once, but she didn’t want the experience to come to an end, so she read one every week, over a span of three years, the same time it took me to write them. She said she’s doing well now. She made it through.”

“Are you planning to see her?”

“No, I’ll probably never see her again.”

Matt put some more wood into the fire. No one said anything for awhile. Then one of the guys picked up his guitar and started playing Nothing Else Matters. I looked up at my favourite star and began to sing.