Jaipur: As the young Instagram poet Rupi Kaur took to the stage here at the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), the front lawn of Diggi Palace erupted in loud cheers almost forgetting the fact that it was the last session of a long-packed inaugural day.
And Kaur, who was making her debut performance in India during the 11th edition of JLF, too didn’t disappoint her fans!
The Canada-based author besides performing several of her poems, was also seen giving advice to budding writers, foremost of which was: “Keep writing, even if it is bad”.
“Half of me feels writer’s block exists, and then the other half refuses to believe it. Because I think it’s just me trying to make excuses to not work. How I get through it by just writing. You job as a writer is to arrive at that desk everyday and write. Write bad poems, ten or hundreds of them.
“Just get it out of your system till you get that perfect one in front of you,” she said.
Known for her rather unconventional style of poetry, which has come to be known as Instagram poetry, Kaur has been criticised for not writing “real poetry”.
“I was somebody who didn’t have the resources, or networks to go from doorstep to doorstep asking publishers ‘hey, I’m 20 years old. Take me seriously’. I tried all those things for a long time and it didn’t work.
“Social media really helped me. I just shared what was closest to my heart and my readership found me. And it made a girl’s dream come true,” the 25-year-old author said.
Kaur rose to fame after her self-published book “Milk and Honey”, a collection of her poems made it to the New York Times bestseller. Her other prominent works include “The Sun and Her Flowers”.
Kaur also talked about her early love for poetry and drawing, which she said eventually led her to “posting short poems with illustrations on Instagram”.
“I started performing on stage first, that was in 2009. But my friends told me that once you put the poem away nobody ever sees it again… So I started a blog, and I experimented with variations of blogs. Writing under pseudonyms and then I started doing this style that you see in the book today,” she added.
The transition to short poems from the traditional long ones came about after Kaur realised they “weren’t hitting home the way they did on stage”.
“It seemed to me that many people were missing out on those little gems in a poem, then I thought why not cut out those little gems and allow people to focus on those,” she said.
Kaur, who says she shares a poem only when it “makes her stomach churn”, draws an accompanying illustration based on what first comes to her head.
“I only share a poem when it makes my stomach churn, and when it makes me feel that I close my eyes and I visualise a possible illustration. And I draw what first comes to my head. And so when it’s ready, when I feel it’s 100 percent, I put it out,” she said.