Book Reading: Rupi Kaur Gives her Readers a Sense of Purpose

The Reading of her Latest Collection of Works Doesn’t Disappoint

Rupi Kaur faces her audience at Le National for her reading of “the sun and her flowers.” Courtesy Nabil Shash

It’s been three years since poet Rupi Kaur released her debut collection of poetic works, milk and honey. Now, after a long hiatus, her followers are ready to engage with her new material.

Kaur recently released her new collection of poetry entitled the sun and her flowers on Oct. 3. She quickly launched into a tour, reading excerpts on stage.

But what happens when a poem lifts off a page and is read out loud to a room at full capacity?

The anticipation was palpable at Le National theatre on Friday, Oct. 6, as I grabbed a drink and found my seat.

Many people at the event admitted that Rupi Kaur’s the sun and her flower reading was the first literary event they ever attended.

Attendees Michelle Bienvenue and Kayla Roy explained in French they like Kaur’s work because she’s relatable, daring, and her poetry is organic and good for the soul.

Rupi Kaur’s audience was drawn to her because they felt understood, and heard. They craved her vulnerability.

Rupi Kaur reading from “the sun and her flowers.” Courtesy Nabil Shash

The theatre was small, intimate, but packed. Before the show started, we were asked to hold our books up, as we were photographed from the stage.

Assistant professor from the english literature department at Concordia, Dr. Katherine McLeod, addressed Kaur’s celebrity status in the context of Canadian literature.

“Listening to Kaur’s work calls for a listening not only to a feminist voice of raw emotion and strength, articulated through innovative poetics and multi-media formats but also to a voice that has generated millions of fans,” McLeod said.

McLeod continued to point out how, in Canadian literature, there are many examples of voices of resistance articulated through innovative poetic forms. She believes that Kaur has succeeded in doing so.

Kaur fired up the energy of the crowd as she walked onto stage. She was bubbly, down to earth, and a little detached from her poetry, allowing breathing space and pausing for emphasis.

I was delighted as she poked fun at herself, revealing humour where I read tension.

Kaur delivered a dynamic and synergetic performance, often stopping to offer commentary, background, or advice. She delivered lines, then waited for our reaction, truly engaging with her audience.

She read an excerpt from every chapter of the sun and her flowers, marking the sections with unique and well-rehearsed spoken word performances. That’s where she really shined through.

Her strong and smooth voice carried her words superbly, enhancing her message with carefully chosen accompanying instrumental pieces. Kaur’s performance was polished yet raw; she completely enjoyed herself through the screams, claps, and love that she received from her audience.

Rupi Kaur interacts with her audience at her reading of “the sun and her flowers.” Courtesy Nabil Shash

Kaur bounced the energy she received back to us, giving us what we came for. Through her performance of displacement, pain, tenderness; she made us feel validated.

Intersecting poetry and popular culture, Kaur’s audience has a resemblance of a fandom.

“I’m one of them,” said Alex, a member of the audience. He had surprised his companion, Eleni, with tickets to the reading. They both adored Kaur’s debut. It wasn’t dense, like most poetry, so they could connect with it more easily. Kaur’s accessibility and relatability seemed to be a consensus amongst the audience.

McLeod concluded that the force of Kaur’s intervention in Canadian literature reveals many of its cracks and fissures in its representations of race, gender, and class.

For instance, McLeod said. “If one reacts with scepticism to Kaur’s popularity, what, exactly is one reacting to?”