Toronto-based author and illustrator, Rupi Kaur, is a worldwide phenomenon today. Her first book, a compilation of heart-warming poems and prose titled Milk And Honey, has sold over a million copies and reached number 1 on the New York Times bestsellers list. She also travels internationally to perform her spoken word poetry, and listening to her voice is as cathartic as reading her poems. Her words carry power that crosses geographical boundaries, races and age groups.
Through her writing, Rupi proves that to be human is to be flawed, and it is only when you openly embrace those flaws that you truly become human. Her work explores topics of love, loss, trauma, healing, femininity, migration and revolution. The 25-year-old has just released her much-awaited second collection of poems called The Sun and Her Flowers.
In light of her new book, we unveil 5 things you probably didn’t know about her.
1. She started drawing when she was 5 years old.
We all have a calling, and Rupi discovered hers at the tender age of 5. Her love for illustration was ignited when her mother handed her a paintbrush and told her to “draw her heart out.” And the rest is history — no force could separate Rupi from her sketches, for visual art came to her naturally. Reading was a passion too, and soon enough, Rupi started writing poems. In order to keep both interests alive, Rupi decided to juxtapose the two to create the perfect way of expressing herself. Her poems are accompanied by semi-scribbled illustrations that are simple enough and don't take away from the poetry.
2. Her writing process begins with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
Before she starts writing, Rupi starts playing qawwalis by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. “I give myself time to sink into his voice and his words, and then when I’m finally ready, when I feel fully in tune with myself and the emotions I will switch to something instrumental. No words. The words get in the way of the writing. I will open up my text edit document. The same one I always use. And I just begin,” she recently said in an interview.
3. This outspoken woman was once a shy and reserved girl.
We all suffer from low self-esteem in one way or another, and Rupi was no stranger to that feeling. Being born in Punjab and migrating to Cananda when she was just 4 years old, Rupi struggled with learning the English language, not fitting in with the other girls, feeling restricted by her parents to do what she wanted to do and loathing herself for being a woman. She would escape from her intense feelings and emotions through her writing and drawings. Finally, Rupi realised that she wasn't the only one feeling this way — other women had similar stories. And that's when she decided to raise her voice and speak up about these issues to let women know that they weren't alone.
4. She writes when her body tells her to.
Though Rupi tries to write everyday, it gets difficult sometimes because of her other commitments. But she knows it's time for her to write when she feels an anxiety build up in the pit of her stomach, and she has to let it out. That's when words flow, just like a strong current flowing. For Rupi, her words and her emotions are connected to each other. When she's feeling low, her poetry tends to be more serious and mature. And when she's feeling upbeat, her writing is freer, lighter. But either way, her words will make you want to explore yourself on a deeper level.
5. She self-published her first book Milk And Honey.
Rupi trusted in herself and self-published her book on Amazon in 2014. And within a year, the book was picked up by Andrews McMeel Publishing. Today, she's the New York Times number 1 bestselling author. The message Rupi is giving you here is that if she can do it, so can you. It takes real courage to follow your dream, but your soul would be much happier if you did. Just like Rupi's.
Get your hands on her latest book here.