Rupi Kaur’s world tour is an avalanche of sincerity

By Clara Faulkner, Staff Writer, Living Arts

Tremont Street was packed with people bearing gowns and glamor for poet and renowned feminist figure Rupi Kaur, who delivered a performance like no other at the Wang Theatre’s Boch Center on Dec. 6.

“Rupi Kaur: World Tour” is a showcase of Kaur’s undiscovered works and a collection of fan-favorite poetry complete with original music and projections. Through words and line drawings crafted with profound feelings, her work investigates love, mental health, trauma, and the development of femininity.

Kaur is well-known for her poetic internet sensation “Milk and Honey.” The book took Instagram by storm after Kaur began posting her free verse poetry on Instagram in 2013. 

Aside from her first self-published poetry release, Kaur has released three books to date titled “The Sun and Her Flowers,” “Home Body,” and “Healing Through Words.” These books have collectively sold more than 11 million copies, and have been translated into over 43 languages.

Kaur writes in lowercase — a personal homage to her native Gurmukhi script. On Tuesday, she read poems from her publications, although most of the show featured unreleased work.

Her books are oriented toward the women’s empowerment movement, and her performance did not fall shy of her ambition to accredit women for their successes. Almost the entire audience was composed of women, whose response to Kaur’s feminist poetry was overwhelming. Her chosen poetry painted a picture of the contemporary woman as a heroine. 

Kaur emphasizes women’s propensity for self-deprecation. 

Her spoken words “I found that there were no roots more intimate than those of a mind and a body that have decided to be full” aptly captured the spirit of her emphasis on the significance of psychological well-being.

Motivated by her experience in therapy, she drew the charming analogy of speed dating to locate a competent therapist.

Her voice both silenced the theater and set it off in raucous laughter. Throughout the course of the performance, Kaur cracked jokes about disastrous dates and bound them to the bedrock of womanhood, helping the audience connect via shared experiences and highlighting Kaur’s focus on the necessity of spoken word.

The mix of spoken word and produced music made me feel as if I were listening to a soundtrack I didn’t want to finish. There was a jubilation in the atmosphere as art and poetry were interwoven. It was an unforgettable performance. Kaur shared with the crowd that she told her team she wanted to bring something distinctive to the audience during her tour, and she delivered.

Kaur’s production was not only compelling because it dealt with universal trauma, but also because she used intimate anecdotes to make the audience feel like they really understood her.

Kaur addressed the male audience members, saying their attendance was testimony that there are decent men on the planet. She then told a related tale of a man she knows in the literary sector who said that childbirth was the most difficult experience of his life, despite the fact that he would not physically experience it. This narrative elicited an avalanche of sincerity and a link to the familiar misogyny women face today.

Kaur proved capable of transforming her performance into a deep dive into the history of patriarchy.

The performer also shared her struggles with dating, attaining unconditional love, and being a cultural advocate in a discriminatory society.

Kaur explained the discrimination she faced entering the literary sector in a recent interview with “The Times of India.”

“I was a 20-year-old, young, brown, Punjabi Sikh woman from a working-class immigrant family who didn’t grow up with much financial resources,” she said. “So what did I care what the literary community thought of me?”

Kaur draws parallels between her desire to overcome writer’s block and satisfy corporate expectations for additional poetry book releases.

She said in the performance that living out her passion comes at the price of being away from home on tour and missing her friends.

Kaur’s delivery was ardent, and it was evident that she was portraying who she was as a poet and a woman of Punjab through her writings. She rose to prominence as not only both a woman and poet, but also as an advocate for neglected voices.

When revealing her struggle with the anxiety that comes with guilt of achievement as an immigrant, the poems began to spill out of her, extending serenity throughout the audience.

In her work, the poet makes it crystal clear that she aims to integrate social concerns with her writings by raising subjects like the Iranian women’s liberation movement and misogyny in the 21st century.

Kaur explained the importance of seeing portrayals of Indian woman authors like herself flourishing in the U.S – demonstrating how much she intends to weave her own Punjab culture into her poetry.

It was exciting to see a gifted writer like Kaur striving to use her platform to capture the crowd by incorporating it into her show. The performance renewed my interest in spoken word poetry.

Kaur has raised the bar for female poets and writers worldwide by presenting a performance that captivated both minds and hearts while highlighting social issues, rom-com scenarios, and cultural impact.