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.

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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’ (see Rebecca Watts’ article on PN Review). 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! ;-)

A New Year, A New Start

Happy New Year everyone!!! Hope your 2018 is off to a wonderful start. Have you set any new year’s resolutions? Here is my list of ten resolutions for the year:

  1. Visit 10 hot spots in Ottawa with my friend Hetal
  2. Be more like my Mom (this may take many years!)
  3. Get a job I love, pay down debt, be financially savvy
  4. Complete my Creative Writing Certificate at U of T (it’s my final year!)
  5. Turn 39 (LOL I have to make sure I achieve at least one of these)
  6. Travel to a place I haven’t been before
  7. Take part in Walk In Her Shoes in Ottawa (perhaps Sophie Gregoire will be there again this year?!)
  8. Read lots of good books
  9. Dance, smile, and laugh a lot… and learn to let go
  10. Visit my friends in T.O. as often as possible

Also here are a few foundational things that are important to do on an ongoing basis, that set the stage for accomplishing any goal, and ensuring that I live healthily and happily.

Tools/Ongoing Practice:

  1. Eating healthy and cooking lots
  2. Regular yoga practice
  3. Spending lots of time in nature
  4. Facetiming my grandparents
  5. Lots of laughter!

I’d love to hear your resolutions if you have any!! It’s always easier to get things done with the support of others, and especially knowing that the universe has your back. And finally, even if nothing gets done… there is always rebellion. ;-)

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

When Will and Grace align, anything is possible

I woke up at around 10 am this morning, the after effects of last night’s evening of magic still on my mind. My friend Gosia threw a fabulous party, where we danced and sang and enjoyed each other’s company. The sounds of the guitar and the rhythms of Ella’s dancing filled the room. I sang “I’m not the only one” by Sam Smith and “Hello” by Adele, and was elated to hear that my voice was strong, that I could reach deep within myself and sing the tunes of my heart.

I went to Raj’s class and he talked about Will and Grace. (individual will, and the grace of God). It was quite uncanny that this morning I had watched an episode of Will & Grace, which I hadn’t watched in so long. Coincidence?! I was kind of led to watch it, because my internet stopped working and I couldn’t watch Netflix, so I turned on the TV and watched the episode where Will and Jack pair up on a business venture that doesn’t end up working. Today was the last of Raj’s class series on finding inner balance. The theme was the story of Jesus, and Raj told the story of the crucifixion. It is a beautiful story.

I went to Casa Loma after class, since it was close by. I love it there! I made a wish and tossed some coins in the fountain – Here’s to hoping my wish comes true.

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Then I made my way to the Khalsa parade,  in celebration of Vaisakhi, and got there just in time to hear mayor John Tory speak. I love going to the parade every year. Usually I go with Jasmine, but she was busy so this year I was on my own, dodging through the crowds, having my hot chai and channa masala. It is such a peaceful gathering, and I feel right at home, and so grateful for the free food!

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Following the parade, I walked down Queen West, where I saw a beautiful tribute to Prince that was painted by my friend Victor the street artist. I can’t believe that he died so suddenly. The songs “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry” are two of my favourites, so haunting and beautiful. May he rest in peace.

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My brother told me about an event happening at 567 Queen West – Drake was promoting his new album “Views from the 6” and giving away free t-shirts. I got there and tried to bypass the line by telling the bouncer that I write a lifestyle blog and that I was covering the event. Unfortunately it didn’t work – he said I could cover the event from the line. Haha! It was such a cool vibe though – here is a video of the scene outside the shop:

On my walk home, I saw this beautiful wedding shoot by the lake. So pretty!

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Magical wedding photo shoot, Harbourfront

 

 

 

How Long Can We Hold Women Back?

I’m barely alive right now. I’ve been processing my pain and there is a lot coming to the surface that has been suppressed for a long time. It’s funny how things happen in your life and it’s not until months (sometimes years) after that you process them and assimilate them into your experience. Sometimes I feel like I am choking on grief. It’s actually a wonder that I’ve been able to function like this.

It was a beautiful day in the city, with all the snow and the branches laden with white, glistening and still. Everywhere I went I just wanted to capture it forever by closing my eyes and holding the image in my memory. I had missed doing the walk yesterday (I usually do it on Mondays) but it was family day and I stayed home pretty much all day studying for my project management exam. I set the date to three weeks away hoping that it would help motivate me to study but so far it hasn’t worked.

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Walking on University Avenue, near Victoria College

I walked past 525 University and stopped to talk to Anthony, the concierge. He showed me pictures of his daughters building their very first snowman in Canada (they’re from the middle east so this was their first Canadian winter). Then I walked to Balzac’s where I read an article about a filmmaker that created a documentary about a girl Saba from Pakistan, who was almost killed by her uncle and father because she married a neighbourhood boy against their wishes. It was a very difficult story to listen to (I’d heard it first on CBC radio), especially the part where her father boasts about it and says he now feels more empowered after teaching her a lesson, and his other daughters and the girls in the community will know better than to go against the rules. It made me so angry. One part that resonated with me was when the filmmaker said “How long can we hold women back? I see cracks in traditional society. More and more women know their rights because of how interconnected they are; they’re no longer isolated. Even in the remotest of villages you have cellphones now, and of course this is going to shake the status quo in a patriarchal society… Women now want a greater say, they want greater economic independence, they want a greater say in the kind of marriages they make, the kind of education they get, where they work.” Seriously! It is amazing that these societies all around the world have managed to hold women back for so long. Like Raj Balkaran says, patriarchy is a result of the fear of the power of the feminine. Who knows what this world would look like if women were enabled to unleash their power? I think we are going to find out! There is no holding us back anymore, that is for sure. And when I say ‘us’, I mean us as a global community. Because when a woman is repressed anywhere in the world, it affects us all.