On September 26, 2018, Girls Write Now received ten tickets to attend Rupi Kaur’s highly anticipated “America Tour.” The mentees gathered at Town Hall. Here are two recollections of the evening from Manar Dihyem and Luna Azcurrain.
Rotten to the Kaur
by Manar Dihyem
Never would I’ve thought that someone like me, a random Arab American Muslim teen who lives someplace in Queens, would ever get to see Rupi Kaur. I rode the train from Queens to Times Square, nearly four hours before the show even began. Within those tedious four hours, I decided to explore the parts of New York I have never seen. I took photographs. Posted them. With each photo lay a caption from Rupi Kaur’s “The Sun and Her Flowers”. For me, poetry runs in my blood as it did in my ancestors’. Kaur spoke and I promise the insides of my body were jumping.
Standing there in her gorgeous gold flowy outfit, glowing! Kaur lit up the entire hall not only by her appearance but by her words. I’ve read “The Sun and Her Flowers” multiple times, I’ve read “Milk and Honey” a couple of times and I fell. In. Love. Now, most of Kaur’s work is not meant for teenagers but the ones that are, are absolutely exhilarating. The mentioning and specificity of the connection her mom has with the cultural aisle in the grocery store definitely spoke to me. I thought it was only my mom who has a thrill whenever we go to the grocery store – for that one aisle.
As one who is always looking for answers, who is in search of inspiration for writing it was like a fairytale. The beautiful slideshow and instrumentals that are portrayed as Kaur reads, the chandelier, the breeze – all made it feel like I was in a fairytale.
Most teenagers don’t enjoy writing. Most feel like it’s a chore. That weakens me. Writing is a gift and those who do not appreciate writing are not aware of the billions of children around the world who don’t know to write, who don’t have accessibility to education. It’s a gift that I know how to write and I believe all should be grateful in knowing how to write. Ever since I began to read poetry, I began feeling more confident in my words and in presenting them to the world, I thought I would’ve gotten the chance to meet Rupi Kaur, to have her sign my book. But at least I got to listen to her read her own writing. To witness history in the making.
That night, my sister came to pick me up from Times Square as it is absolutely frightening for a young Muslim girl to travel in the city, alone, in the night especially. My sister, bless her soul, had been working for around ten hours and took an hour ride just to protect me. My parents weren’t quite happy that we arrived to my home borough at eleven. I hated that my parents weren’t happy but it was an experience I’d never forget.
Kaur is as much a comedian as she is a poetess and she has portrayed that in her presentation in front of hundreds of people. People tend to forget historic figures and pay less attention but I’ve got a strong feeling that ‘rotten to the Kaur’ will be an unforgettable historic figure. People are born. People are dead. But, their words never come with graves.
A huge thank you to Rupi Kaur for being a gorgeous and talented, inspirational woman and to Girls Write Now for being an empowering organization where young women writers can begin to change the world with their writing.
Rupi Kaur Review
by Luna Azcurrain
I had heard of this Milk and Honey. The book that everyone was praising but I still hadn’t gotten around to picking it up. It flooded my Instagram feed daily. Each time I got a glimpse of one of the poems I was in awe. Every time I would read one I would tell myself, you need to buy this book, stop wasting time. Each poem I read gave me another reason to have this book in my life.
The entire book didn’t come into my life until 2017. I know I was late to the game. One day I met up with my best friend to catch up and she had a gift bag in her hand. “What’s that?” I asked, “It’s for you” she said as she handed it to me. I was already so surprised and excited that I was receiving a gift on a random day but, when I tore up the wrapping paper and saw the black mate cover, I knew it was Milk and Honey. I immediately started jumping with joy in the middle of the street. I knew I was finally holding my very own Milk and Honey. I could finally indulge myself in Rupi’s powerful poetry.
I was never the biggest fan of poetry, but I knew Rupi was different. I just wasn’t ready to hear the truth I knew Rupi spoke. My very intelligent best friend gave me Milk and Honey when I was confused about love. Why it was so valued? Why did everyone seem to want it and need it ? Why was it involved in every aspect of life? This poetry collection for me really captured the repercussions of love in all of its forms. It illustrated a unique balance between the hardships and beauty that love brings with every aspect of life.
This book became powerful for a lot of women because many of us have felt the same way Rupi has. We have lived through all the obstacles Rupi speaks about. Rupi was the brave soul who put everyone’s feelings on paper. For that I thank her. For putting a voice out for all the minds that were dealing with the same issues but couldn’t figure out how to say it out loud, and proud like she did.
When iemi sent out the Girls Write Now Gazette, which I read 4 days later (oops), and I saw that they had tickets to Rupi Kaur’s show I emailed her back right away even though I knew my chances of snagging a ticket were slim. I had remembered seeing on my Instagram, again, that she was going on tour and coming to New York. I had wanted to buy tickets but didn’t know who to go with, or if I even had time. But after many back and forth emails with iemi I got a ticket and I made time to go because I was going to see Rupi Kaur at Town hall with a bunch of writers that appreciate her as much as I do.
Seeing Rupi on stage was magical. Not only did she look gorgeous (her outfit was stunning) but her energy brought instant joy to the entire crowd. Her voice was soft even as she recited her poems with power. Her hands twirled in circular motions as she spoke. The stage light right over her, making her sequin top sparkle. The screen behind her showed the images in her book as they corresponded with each poem she read. This helped make you feel like you were inside the book with her. Her consistent humor brought smiles and laughter to everyone in the audience.
When I saw Rupi up on that stage and heard from her, how poetry helped her get through and process many of her struggles I was instantly inspired. I realized how vulnerable it must have been to put all her feelings out into the world for everyone to read and interpret. As a writer, it inspired me to put more of my own emotions out into my writing without thinking of what others will say about it. It’s inspiring to see Rupi come so far from just sharing her true feelings. This made me want to give poetry more of a chance. I used to believe poetry was just a way to describe objects using metaphor and simile. Rupi has taught me that it can become so much more. It’s a way to channel your inner self, and express yourself in way that will make you better understand yourself and the world.
Thank you Rupi.