Why Rupi Kaur is Important

Just a couple of blocks away from Santa Clara University, I live in a house with eight wonderful women, most of whom keep a copy of Rupi Kaur’s milk and honey on their bedside table. After I asked each of them why they have the book, each responded with a similar and simple, “it helps.”

If you aren’t familiar with Kaur’s works, milk and honey is a collection of minimalistic, emotional, to-the-point poems that are organized in such a way that reflects a healing process. The first section of poems is called “the hurting,” which is then followed by “the loving,” “the breaking,” and finally, “the healing.” Most of her poems take up less than a quarter of the page, some have simple doodles at the bottom, some are about sex, some are about family, some are about strength. She states on her website that her collection “explore[s] a variety of themes ranging from love. loss. trauma. healing. femininity. migration. ‘revolution.’” Her poems speak volumes about the emotional and physical experiences that young women go through, which is why she has been, and continues to be, an important figure in our lives as college students.

We, as young women, live anything but consistent lives as we move from high school, to college, to working, to moving. We are constantly in a state of transition. Through these years, we experience loss, love, heartbreak, disappointment, bonding, abuse, everything. And though no woman’s pain is the same, it’s all relative and it comes at different times (and in different ways) in our lives. Rupi Kaur encapsulates these experiences in her writing. The subjects that she writes about are difficult to talk about and often not spoken about openly. She writes about these experiences with a candid tone and with extreme honesty, which not only allows young women to heal from our own relative experiences, but lets us know that we are not going through them alone. Her writing allows us a venue for opening up conversation with our parents, peers, mentors, and especially, ourselves.

When asked why she started writing, Kaur said “our trauma escapes the confines of our own times. we’re not just healing from what’s been inflicted onto us as children. my experiences have happened to my mother and her mother and her mother before that. it is generations of pain embedded into our souls. i read hundreds of books growing up. but none can explain this torment to me. i need access to words written by people who look like me writing about the things i am going through. at that moment i realize the importance of representation and know this must be different for my children…” Kaur’s willingness to be vulnerable and address difficult issues is the inspiration that college-aged women need. And no matter what we’ve gone through or are going through, we all need a safe and healthy outlet for coping with pain in our lives. With her poetry, Kaur lets us know that it’s okay to feel it and that we’re not alone.