How about we stop shaming girls for liking Rupi Kaur?
It’s not up to you to decide what’s good
by Jenn Ficarra
Rupi Kaur is arguably the most famous of the newly-minted Insta Poet generation. For those who grew up writing angsty posts on Xanga and Tumblr, her easily-digestible platitudes and Pinterest-primed poems make consuming simple poetry easy and — here's the biggest thing — fun.
Rupi's book, Milk and Honey, is the best selling book in the U.S. this year. Young girls in particular have had visceral and passionate reactions to Rupi's poems. Regardless of talent, you don't sell 1.4 million copies if no one's connecting to what you're saying.
But like anything young girls consume en masse and enjoy unabashedly, it's met with waves of self-righteous backlash from holier-than-thou dudes.
But I'm here to tell you something. And it's going to sound semi-revolutionary, but hear me out: Let girls enjoy things.
Especially when those things are made by other girls.
Especially especially especially when those things are made by girls of color, breaking through an industry that's been dominated by old, dead, white dudes since the literal dawn of time.
I've said this time and time again Rupi Kaur writes poetry for people who don't actually *like* poetry/understand it.
— spooky yeli (@YeliLDN) June 12, 2017
I'm not here to defend the literary merit of Rupi Kaur. I'm not here to say whether or not her poetry is good, whether or not she stole her words from another poet, or anything of the sort.
Liking Rupi Kaur doesn't make you any less intelligent. It doesn't mean your taste is banal, it doesn't mean you don't have the capacity to understand or enjoy or connect with what critics consider "real" poetry.
And it doesn't mean anyone gets to take up a haughty air of self-importance every time a girl dares to reblog a Rupi poem.
This isn't anything new, in poetry or elsewhere. If you've ever sat through any freshman literature class or poetry seminar, you're familiar with the guys who roll their eyes when anyone brings up Sylvia Plath. Something about female poets — and the young girls who love them — invite dismissal out of hand. But that's bullshit.
It's not just poetry, either. We don't let girls like anything without tearing it down and ridiculing it as "soooo basic." It doesn't matter if it's the Twilight series or pumpkin spice lattes or Lush bath bombs. If it permeates Young American Girl Culture, you're going to get shredded for it.
shitting on rupi kaur's work makes me so mad yes you're allowed to dislike a piece of art but don't invalidate people who do like it
— neelam!🌻 (@taylortownsends) July 25, 2017
Art is meant to be criticized and consumed. You're allowed to think her poetry sucks, you're allowed to analyze and rip it apart. But what you're not allowed to do is paint with such a wide brush that you color everyone who's ever resonated with it as stupid.
People are really mad at Rupi Kaur, like it’s her fault that people didn’t like your shitty poetry like they do hers.
— Action Hank (@pinche_cochino) October 5, 2017
Rupi Kaur might not be writing anything particularly complex, but she's still writing poetry. She's still contributing to society and helping people heal and find peace with her words.
Her fans who find solace in her words don't suck. Their taste isn't questionable. They aren't less human. They're simply connecting with something you're not connecting with. Much in the same way that you've connected with spewing cowardly vitriol at strangers over the internet, they've connected with Rupi Kaur's words.
Let they who have flawless taste be the first to cast a stone, because everyone's got a secret Spotify playlist they'd die to keep hidden.