You would have to be living under a rock to not have heard of Rupi Kaur, or at least you would definitely be someone who is on no social media. Kaur, 24 a Canadian poet, writer, illustrator and performer of Indian descent is an internet phenomenon. We all know of her even without her fans re-posting her work to their own feeds.

The writer, who self-published her first poetry book, Milk and Honey in 2014, has over 1.7 million followers on Instagram and thousands more on Facebook and Twitter. Her work, which is characterized by short, punctuation-less phrases and sparse drawings, inspires and attracts comments, the second she posts a new poem.

Milk and Honey deals with themes of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It has sold over a million copies, reaching #1 and spending over a year on the New York Times bestsellers list. Her new book, The Sun and Her Flowers, which features five new chapters of poems on loss, love, loneliness, and identity, all with nature themes and simple phrases has just released and it’s already trending at number one on Amazon.

Rupi Kaur
Pic Credit: Amazon.co.in

But the reviews on her work never trends.

This is usual to her because the Instagram sensation has been in the spotlight for her bold worldview on race, colour, abuse, violence and more. She has received attention from the media and social media audiences time and again for her posts, among the more famous ones being the picture of a girl sleeping with her bloodstained pyjamas.

Controversy has also followed her.

Kaur has also been accused of plagiarising the work of Nayyirah Wahid, a Tumblr poet – has been releasing snippets from the book, which she describes as a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising and blooming, for her 1.7 million followers on Instagram.

As the old adage goes, with popularity comes a lot of negativity. Though this may be true considering how many people might like one’s work and how many might not because they might not have the aptitude for it.

What the millennials think of Rupi Kaur

Reine Twinkle, 20, studying arts from New Delhi talks about how anyone can easily be a Rupi Kaur’s fan, as her phrases can be understood by everyone. She says, “When it comes to poetry and its depth, it’s usually only a handful, maybe more but not too many, that truly understand and appreciate the beauty of it. So, I think that kind of leaves a lot of people out of appreciating Shakespeare’s sonnets or seeing the world through John Keats’ eyes. I don’t mean to say that Kaur’s pieces are shallow, but she just presents them in a way that is easy to include a large crowd in feeling the depth she wants them to feel and she presents them well, seeing as to how she’s already attracted a hell lot of light to her work.”

It’s valid as to how these couple of words are easy to understand by an enormous number of people but the very problem that has arisen is that the durability of these phrases are under threat.

The point that needs to be noted here is the sudden transition of turning against her and her work. Does this explain the fickleness of the social media glory that she received? Or are there any reasons to this sudden backlash?

She says, “Pop poets, the kind who string five random words together to create their so-called ’poetry.’ Rupi Kaur is one of them, albeit slightly more famous than most. Her poems supposedly deal with themes of love, loss and femininity. Where, how, I ask. Writing everything in Helvetica with a lightly faded background doesn’t automatically make it profound. Nor does the form of its sentence.

Palak Maheshwari, 19, an ardent poet from Delhi gives a new perspective as to why the love Rupi Kaur has been getting has suddenly backfired. She brings a new perspective of Pop poets or the Insta poets who received a lot of appreciation in the beginning but with the passage of time, have started getting backlashes. This is not because they have changed from what they began from but because the audience have a new wave realisation of the true essence of Poetry.

A post shared by rupi kaur (@rupikaur_) on

This is one of Ms. Kaur’s pieces with over a hundred thousand likes on Instagram. This is vastly mediocre, if anything at all.
It undermines the talent of real poets writing real, thought-provoking poetry.
I’ve been wary of Ms. Kaur’s work from the very start. I was shocked when a book was made out of her lnstagram musings, and now there’s a second.”

Though this is the opinion of a person who writes poetry, what needs to brought to notice is how this thought has spread to various other people to take an about turn from what they once enjoyed.

Siddharth Aggarwal, 19, engineering student from Maharaja Agrasen college, says,

“The current generation are like the fidget spinners. In this fast-paced life, people want to skim through everything, let alone feel the depth in poetry. There was a wave of these pop poets on Instagram. But with change being the only constant, people’s likings and preferences changed. One of the main reasons why people changed their liking towards this new pop poetry was because of the immense criticism, Rupi in particular, received from various social media platforms. This was the second wave where people turned against this format and wanted to read in-depth poetry. Though the question of who made fixed formats in poetry is another game all together, with change in time, influence and environment, opinions and preferences changed. This is not specifically about fickleness of social glory but it is about change.”

Usually there are cases where people troll and disrespect someone because they became famous overnight. However, there might be genuine groups of people who are against such ‘instant’ stars and might have their own reasons as to why they feel so, and there is a third group which once appreciated this poetry and now longer does.

In the end, all that matters is appreciation for the art. We all know as always that appreciation will remain subjective to every individual.

Pic Credit: hindustantimes.com

Also read: The Airplane Poetry Movement: Building A Platform For Spoken Word Poets In India

Reshma Ganeshbabu is an intern with SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed in this column are author’s own.

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