This blog post was written by Rahat Huda, a second year mentee and Posse Scholar. The found poetry workshop was on December 10, 2016.
The A.M. mentee-mentor pairs were in for a treat at the December Found Poetry workshop– Rupi Kaur, an Indian poet based in Canada flew in the morning of to share her work with our girls and discuss vulnerability, immigration, and her fascinating self-publishing success story.
Kaur opened up the workshop with some of her spoken word. Her gentle voice filled the room. She recounted the changes in her body as she grew into womanhood and her mother’s response to when boys began to taunt her in a powerful piece rightfully titled “The Art of Growing.”
Afterwards, she spoke to us about her beginnings as a poetess when she would write poems for her crushes, and they reluctantly accepted them before never speaking to her again. A young writer and a somewhat insecure poet myself, I couldn’t imagine sharing my early works with anyone, let alone a boy I liked.
Kaur’s quirkiness made her all the more engaging. As a longtime follower of her Instagram blog, I’ve always felt that her simple poems, accompanied by beautiful sketches, somehow managed to make me feel as though she was writing just for me. Whether or not I experienced any of what she was writing about was irrelevant– Rupi Kaur made me feel like I knew exactly what she was talking about. She seemed wise beyond her years, something I felt I needed to be to write poetry with confidence.
Kaur revealed to us that she also faced uncertainty regarding her career as a writer. Before she even thought publishing a book was possible, Rupi Kaur was studying to become a lawyer. She claimed that as the daughter of immigrants, the pressure of making money and being successful was even more significant. She discovered, however, that the poems she was posting on her Tumblr and Instagram accounts were getting recognition, and soon enough, her followers were asking about a book. Kaur set to piecing together her own book, attaching sketches to her poems. milk and honey was first self-published in November 2014, a fact a lot of our mentees and mentors found quite impressive. Kaur’s passion and dedication for her craft definitely paid off as her book quickly became a bestseller, despite her inexperience in the publishing world.
Kaur later told us about how the people in her life reacted to her writing such personal and raw poems. She claims she didn’t lose the people most important to her and instead became closer to them because of the honesty in her book. During the Q&A session, I asked her if she actually experienced everything she wrote about, and she told us that they key was to listen to other people when they talk about things that have happened to them. The ability to show empathy and put that into writing made up a good portion of the book, along with her own experiences.
The craft talk ended with Kaur reciting “Broken English,” a beautiful poem about her parents’ journey to America, the sacrifices they made, and her newfound appreciation for their broken English. During the break, mentees and mentors lined up to get their copy of milk and honey signed by the remarkable, multitalented Rupi Kaur.