Rupi Kaur: Punjabi-Canadian Immigrant, Bold Poet and Daring Artist

Rupi Kaur was born in India and raised in Canada. Her poetry and illustrations have engaged people around the world.

With so much Westernization, it’s easy to get sucked into a culture and try to “fit” into a society. But what if we didn’t let the norms defy us? How would we be able to achieve and connect? This bold poet shows us exactly that.

Rupi Kaur in yellow and rust floral top looking at the camera.
Rupi Kaur. By Baljit Singh – Rupi Kaur inc., CC BY-SA 4.0,

Rupi Kaur was born in Punjab, India on Oct. 4, 1992. Her parents emigrated to Toronto, Canada when she was 4-years-old. Since she was not able to speak English with her fellow peers, she began to paint and draw at a young age. She started writing poetry to her friends and even wrote love messages to her crushes.

“I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on. I was moved by the ability of books to pull one out of their reality and into someone else’s…I want to put words to feelings we have trouble putting into words. Like the breath before the kiss, I want to make the mundane beautiful.”

Kaur attended the University of Waterloo in Ontario studying Rhetoric and Professional Writing. True to the era of modernization, she used Instagram and Tumblr as platforms to share her work. Her messages of femininity, love, loss and abuse resonated with many. Kaur seeks to give a voice to those who cannot speak up or feel like their words will be lost in the sea of noise or just tossed aside. Many of her stories describe her experiences as an immigrant and victim of sexual abuse.

Kaur’s thoughts on immigration in the modern world specifically reflect the hearts of many who have also stepped foot and lived in another country. “I realized that being an immigrant feels like being a bridge between both countries. I can’t fully step into and just belong to one. I’m somewhere in the middle,” Kaur states, “And damn. that’s a beautiful thing.”

Rupi Kaur poem quote and line drawing of boat
Facebook post from Jan.14, 2019 by Rupi Kaur

On Nov. 4, 2014, Kaur published her first book of poetry and illustrations, “Milk and Honey.” The book is divided into four sections: “the hurting,” “the loving,” “the breaking” and “the healing.” It stayed on the “New York Times” Best Seller list for 77 straight weeks and surpassed sales of 2.5 million copies. Her second book, “The Sun and Her Flowers,” was published in 2017. Together these collections have been translated into over 42 languages.

Kaur has gone beyond poetry with her feminist work. In 2015, controversy erupted when she posted an image on Instagram of her lying on a bed with a menstrual stain on her sweatpants and on the sheets. Instagram took down the photo and Kaur retaliated, saying “Their patriarchy is leaking. Their misogyny is leaking. [M]y womb is home to the divine. a source of life for our species.” Instagram put the photo back and this incident became part of a Visual Rhetoric course at the University of Waterloo.

Controversy fuels Kaur’s work as she furthers the feminist movement and preaches the current immigrant experience. It draws light to the adversities she has faced as a first-generation immigrant, an Asian, and a woman. Though she is culturally made up of different pieces, she has managed to make people relate to at least some part of her. “People say things meant to rip you in half, but you hold the power to not turn their words into a knife and cut yourself.”


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