By merely existing on social media, you have likely come across the work of Rupi Kaur: a multi-hyphenate known for her modern rendition of poetry and sprawling influence across Instagram and the internet.
Kaur has been credited as one of the first Insta-Poets, a category for writers who publish poems that fit into the grid’s perfect squares and are later profligated across hundreds of other accounts on Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram itself. Her stardom, fostered on screens and reaching virality in 2015, has led to the publication of several commercially successful books. The first, milk and honey, notoriously outsold Homer’s The Odyssey in 2016. Her second, the sun and her flowers, debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times paperback fiction best-seller list, where it remained for 70 consecutive weeks.
The 29-year-old Punjabi Canadian is almost ubiquitous with modern-day poetry and her influence is undeniable. Yet, Kaur’s work has been divisive. Her linguistic minimalism (some poems are brief enough to fit Twitter’s 140-character limit) has led to parody meme accounts, satirical tweets, and general critique.
Such criticism has not hampered Kaur’s advancement, though, either as a poet or as a social media icon. There is a universality to her subjects which critics hardly deny and fans will affirm. Kaur currently sits at a whooping 4.5 million followers on Instagram, is in the midst of a world tour, and awaits the publication of her fourth book, Healing Through Words.