Rupi Kaur (born 4 October 1992) (Punjabi: ਰੂਪੀ ਕੌਰ) is an Indian-born Canadian poet and author.
Her works have been at the forefront of Instapoetry, a new genre of social-media-centered, short, and easily accessible poetry. She received widespread popularity after the publication of her debut book Milk and Honey (2014) which went on to sell over 2.5 million copies worldwide and spent more than a year on The New York Times Best Seller list. She has been further subject to widespread media fame, after using menstrual blood to create varied forms of visual poetry.
However, critical reviews of her literary works have been observedly negative. Some of the main reoccurring themes reviewers seem to cite problems with are Kaurs' apparent lack of poetic form and depth.
Kaur was born into a Sikh family in Punjab, India. She immigrated to Canada with her parents when she was four years old. She was inspired by her mother to draw and paint.
She attended Turner Fenton Secondary School, before studying rhetoric and professional writing at the University of Waterloo.
Kaur notes her first performance to be in the basement of the Punjabi Community Health Centre in Malton around 2009. Throughout her high school, Kaur shared her writing anonymously. From 2013 onward, she began sharing her work under her own name on Tumblr before taking to Instagram in 2014, wherein she also started adding simple thematic illustrations.
Kaur's first book, an anthology titled Milk and Honey (stylized as milk and honey), was published on 4 November 2014. Her inspiration for the book's name came from a past poem which included a line about women surviving terrible times. She describes the change in the women as, "smooth as milk and as thick as honey." A collection of observations, prose, and hand-drawn illustrations, the book is divided into four chapters, and each chapter depicts a different theme.
Book sales of milk and honey surpassed the 2.5 million copy mark. The book was on The New York Times Best Seller list for over 77 weeks. Milk and Honey has since been translated into 25 languages.
Her second book, The Sun and Her Flowers, was published on 3 October 2017. Works in this collection explore a variety of themes including loss, trauma, healing, femininity, migration and revolution.
In 2019, she was commissioned by Penguin Classics to write an introduction for a new edition of Khalil Gibran's The Prophet, in anticipation of that book entering the public domain in the United States.
She currently resides in Toronto, Ontario.
As in Gurmukhi script, her work is written exclusively in lowercase, using only the period as a form of punctuation. Kaur writes this way to honour her culture. She has said that she enjoys the equality of letters and that the style reflects her worldview. Her written work is meant to be an experience that is easy for the reader to follow, with simple drawings to elevate her words.
Common themes found throughout her works include abuse, femininity, love, self-care, and heartbreak.
In March 2015, Kaur posted a series of photographs to Instagram depicting herself with menstrual blood stains on her clothing and bed sheets. Described as a piece of visual poetry, it formed her final project for her undergraduate studies and is considered as among her more notable works; intended to challenge prevalent societal menstrual taboos. They were pulled down for not complying with the site's terms of service. Instagram brought back the images; citing a mistaken removal and apologized to her, after being criticized for displaying the very response, that the works intended to critique.
Kaur draws inspiration from Sikh scriptures. The experience of learning English upon moving to Canada has influenced her writing style.
Poet Nayyirah Waheed has accused poet Kaur of plagiarism, a charge Kaur denies. However, Kaur has stated she takes inspiration from Waheed.
Kaur was listed in the BBC 100 Women in 2017.