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Rupi Kaur: the inevitable backlash against Instagram's favourite poet

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Kaur’s verses on love, sex and race have made her the most revered – and reviled – of today’s ‘instapoets’. As a new collection The Sun and Her Flowers hits shelves, is the social media star a dark omen for poetry or a fresh voice in literature?

Rupi Kaur has achieved a rare feat for a modern poet: mainstream popularity. Part of a new generation of instapoets– young poets publishing verse primarily on social media – Kaur, who turns 25 this month, pairs her dreamy, aphoristic poems with doodles reminiscent of those found in the margins of old school books. Kaur writes about love, sex, rejection and relationships, all topics common on social media, but she also deals with darker material: abuse, beauty standards, racism. Her debut collection, Milk and Honey, has sold 1.4m copies – so far – and she has 1.6 million followers on Instagram.

But success often comes with a backlash, and for every ardent fan, there is a sneering keyboard critic. Her trademark fragmented free verse makes her easy prey for online sceptics. Their mimicry is often witty, and close enough to Kaur’s formula to sting: examples include “I wanted / Chick-fil-a / but / you / were / a Sunday morning” and “I understand / why guacamole is / extra / it is because / you / were never / enough.”

there's a difference between
someone telling you they're ordering pizza
and them actually
ordering pizza
-rupi kaur

this was one of the first poems i wrote after some rather tough circumstances in life. i kept blaming myself again. and again. and again. i'm not sure how i got out of it and i'm not sure if i have. but learning to forgive myself and begin loving me. even when everything within me told me no. was one of the first steps i took. hope your monday is giving you bliss ❤️

Related: Verse goes viral: how young feminist writers are reclaiming poetry for the digital age

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