Seeing Rupi Kaur Saturday was like going to therapy or yoga. Her honey-sweet voice lulled the audience into a meditation on self love, feminism and heartbreak, leaving us feeling empowered.
The poet, known for her best-selling books “milk and honey” and “the sun and her flowers,” put on a show as soft and gentle as her poems. She stood encircled by delicate pink petals with a screen behind featuring shadows of flowers blowing in a quiet breeze. The backdrop shifted between photos of young Kaur and her family and simple line drawings mimicking sketches found in her books, giving us a visual into what was on her mind when she wrote her poems.
We got a deeper look behind the scenes of Kaur’s brain during her quips between poems. She told quick stories explaining the texts or simply just speaking her mind, joking about being stuck in bed for months after a breakup or reminiscing about her family’s immigration to Canada from Punjab, India.
Kaur maintained an engaging rhythm throughout her nearly two hour performance, despite not leaving the petal circle, like it was an invisible bubble protecting her. She swayed and gestured her arms in sync with each syllable, sinking into her words. She weaved several spoken word pieces accompanied by modest music, small beats that seemed to follow her lead rather than the other way around.
Most of her asides and poems focused on the aftermath of or cure for breakups, or tellings of intimate experiences with a lover. She also talked about her strong bond with her mother and the strength of being a woman.
The show went on for about 30 minutes too long, but every minute felt genuine. Kaur held nothing back, even laughing as she said “I’ve been too honest with you, don’t think I’m weird.” It felt like I was sitting down for a private chat with her, even though the Wisconsin Union Theater was nearly full. One lucky audience member did get to do that, as she invited someone on stage to read with her, offering her guest encouraging squeezes along the way.
The honest poet couldn’t have come at a better time, arriving with her feminist agenda just a day after Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh’s testimonies. Each poem and thought she shared about womanhood and women’s bodies was met with the loudest audience response, a roar of solidarity. One line stuck with me, and it seems to drive Dr. Ford, strong women and people of all genders to keep fighting: “I have survived far too much to go quietly.”
Sammy Gibbons is Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Cardinal. To read more of her work, click here.