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Rupi Kaur x Her Campus: An Inside Look into Kaur’s New Book ‘Healing Through Words’

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

While at one point, poetry seemed to be something of the past, Rupi Kaur has proven its immense power in the modern age. New York Times bestselling poet, photographer, author, illustrator and activist, Rupi Kaur, sat down with Her Campus to discuss her upcoming fourth novel, Healing Through Words. Her previous books have been huge successes, most notably Milk and Honey, where Kaur gained her fame. However, while her previous trilogy of books was written with the intention of the reader simply reading it, Healing Through Words takes a different approach. It contains 60 guided writing activities and includes reflections on creativity and poetry. The four chapters are reflective of those in her very first novel Milk and Honey: “the hurting,” “the loving,” “the breaking” and “the healing.” Kaur hopes that this novel will help the reader discover “what it means to be alive and create in this world.” 

Kaur has made it very clear that Healing Through Words will be a very different book than her last three. While the trilogy that preceded this book have had intertwined stories, this book is more disconnected. Kaur shared that she wasn’t expecting this book to happen. She explains that she initially started creating the book for herself to help clear up her own writer’s block. Kaur describes writer’s block as “really scary” and “to fully believe you are never going to write another word again” as terrifying. She says that Healing Through Words is her answer to how to overcome writer’s block. She discovered while she was trying to cure her own writing difficulties that she was able to help a much wider audience beyond herself.

“During COVID-19, because I felt so isolated, I started holding workshops on Instagram live and I learned that so many of my readers are writers. Healing Through Words is this gift I created for them and us. The way it sort of fits in is that people connect to poetry because it makes them feel seen and helps them process the great and the not-so-great experiences of life. What breaks my heart is that there is so much pain in the world and so I want to help. I think and I hope that this book can be added into people’s self-care practices.” In comparison to her past books, she described Healing Through Words as a bookend to an era and that it is “guarding over” her first three books. 

When asked what color Kaur would affiliate with her new book, she said “cream, because what I love about the book is the cream pages.” Kaur said that the cream pages represent a blank slate in which she wants the reader to “add your own color.”

“The book is not just mine; I wanted the design to feel like your own journey to project yourself onto it.” She hopes that readers will feel lighter and more in touch after finishing Healing Through Words. “We all have that voice that guides us to our inner purpose but we live in a world that demands so much of us, where there is so much pressure and I hope that it helps you hear yourself more clearly.” 

As a successful writer, Kaur has a lot of advice to give to others about poetry and writing in general. All writers know that establishing a writing routine and creative rituals is one of the hardest parts of the process. Kaur admitted that her writing routine has changed greatly over the last 12 years. She commented that Milk and Honey was her easiest book to write because she wasn’t trying to write a book. She said that she was “just obsessed with the feeling that I felt when I was able to find the exact precise words to describe what I was experiencing… the magic that we all have access to took over.” However, her second book The Sun and Her Flowers was contrarily the hardest. “All of the noise came in, I couldn’t hear my inner voice, the mystic energy I felt was blocked. I felt the pressure to write another New York Times bestselling book. It was the opposite of Milk and Honey; I would punish myself and make myself write.” Through this experience, she discovered this is not the way for her to create since “poetry is not something that can happen on demand. It is something that happens to me and happens through me.” 

Regarding a consistent routine and creative rituals, Kaur notes that she tries to practice a couple times a week by meditating, drinking tea/lighting candles and allowing herself to free write. The act of free writing has been helpful for her to unlock her inner creativity because “what needs to be worked on and processed will come out that way.” Kaur relies heavily on the teachings from her own culture and how she learned from the East to turn into her gut and to nature for guidance on her writing practices. She finds that many artists are still in the capitalist nature and of the West, which makes creating feel like punishment. She’s worked hard to unlearn these practices that she was taught in school in order to create something that is more organic and she suggests other writers try to as well. In the present day, Kaur is on tour for Healing Through Words. She says that she found her love for poetry on the stage and so a lot of her work is written for the stage. “Poetry is the medium I’m using right now, but the thing I’m trying to do is connect with people. Performing comes full circle and I want to do that because I feel like the poetry can be experienced fully when I’m the one performing it. It is very musical for me.”

Kaur is as much of an activist as she is a poet and she notices that through poetry, she is able to advocate effectively. “As a person, I have a duty to be in touch with what is happening out there” and she says that how she processes what is happening in the world is through art. She recognizes that there are some topics that are historically taboo and she believes that “if not you, who is going to do it? If that is calling you, you have to do it.” The same goes for vulnerability, “you have to write what feels most natural and organic. You have to get it out, you can’t just let it sit inside of you. And you don’t have to share it! That’s the beautiful thing. You can write it and then decide later if you want to share it.” 

Although being published may appear to be completely glamorous, Kaur shed light on the harsh reality of imposter syndrome and getting published as a poet. When asked if she faces imposter syndrome she responded “every day. Who isn’t facing it? And if they’re not, are they okay? What’s up with that.” She suggests stepping back and reflecting on “why am I doing this?” and finding the truth/purpose to keep going. As far as publishing goes, she has noticed that it is easier now than ever before to get published as a poet, since even just a few years ago “publishing poetry was almost laughable.” She does remind those aspiring to get published that “it’s not an industry that runs on fairness and merit so sometimes you have to create opportunities for yourself. If the industry isn’t letting you through, that doesn’t mean your work is not needed and valid just because they can’t see it. They are not who you are writing for.” 

Rupi Kaur’s newest book is expected to be available everywhere on Sep. 27 and can be preordered today. Kaur shares writing tips and inspiration on her Instagram frequently and is currently on her world tour

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Hannah Scheifele is a writer from Tampa and is an English Education major at FSU. She cares deeply about the environment and likes to read, exercise, do yoga, take pictures, and sew/crochet in her free time! Feel free to reach out to her on insta @hannah.sch_<3