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  • Jeff Somers 8:00 pm on 2018/01/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , rupi kaur, the sun and her flowers, well-versed   

    5 Reasons Rupi Kaur Is the Poet of Our Times 

    Poetry doesn’t often make headlines—much less the bestseller lists. Which makes Rupi Kaur all the more remarkable, even before you’ve even read a single word of her verse. Her first collection of poems, Milk and Honey, has sold more than a million copies, likely many of them to her more than 2 million social media followers. In a book world in which thrillers dominate, having a bona-fide poet sell like that is pretty exciting.

    Of course, poetry is subjective, and your appreciation (or lack thereof) for it changes as you change. Poems that didn’t resonate when read in school creep up on you in middle age, and poets that blew your mind when you were 20 may not seem as profound by age 50. But Kaur is the real deal, and as close as we’ve come to a poetry superstar in a long, long time. As her second collection, the marvelous The Sun and Her Flowers, continues to gather her new admirers, we offer these reasons why.

    Her Grasp of Medium

    We’re living in the 21st century, a world in which tiny computers live in every pocket. People are increasing cutting cords and consuming media on their phones instead of their televisions. Just 25, Kaur understands that even if print books are making a comeback, her generation lives on social media, and that has an effect on how they read and understand. Her poetry reflects this; it’s often said she really publishes on her Instagram account, which is where much of her work appears, long before it’s collected. Her poems are crafted for the platform—short, with artful line breaks that are visually appealing (the impact of the “shape” of a poem has long been misunderstood, but poets from T.S. Eliot to Lewis Carroll believed what a poem looks on the page matters). They are usually accompanied by her warm, hand-drawn illustrations. If you were to design a bionic poet for the social media age, it would be Rupi Kaur.

    She Makes It Look Easy

    That style of short, eccentrically-formatted poems is easy to mock. Like the folks who see a Jackson Pollack painting and say their kid could paint it, people see a poem like this and think anyone could do it:

    the idea that we are

    so capable of love

    but still choose

    to be toxic

    But the style is much more controlled and subtle than it first appears. Kaur’s line breaks are diamond-sharp, and her lack of capital letters and limited use of punctuation (the period is the only mark she uses) is a nod towards her heritage; both features of Punjabi, the language of her birthplace. If you dismiss Kaur’s work as simplistic, you’re not paying attention.

    Her Work Fights Chauvinism

    Criticism of Kaur often has a decidedly unsavory chauvinistic edge. A large proportion of her work deals with issues women encounter daily, but are often invisible to men; as her audience is heavily female, there’s a tendency by male culture hawks to dismiss it as silly or shallow. It’s a sadly common idea—that anything that appeals to women must, of course, be inferior (a fact romance readers know well). That much of Kaur’s work deals with abuse and oppression by men makes it feel even more of the moment in the era of #MeToo and #TimesUp.

    There’s a Narrative

    Neophytes often boggle at the abstract nature of poetry—its lack of a story or a character to become involved with.

    Kaur, remarkably, constructs a narrative with her poems, despite the fact that they initially appear one-by-one on her social media platforms. Milk and Honey is divided into four sections: the hurting, the loving, the breaking, the healing. Reading from the beginning to the end tells the story of a relationship, with Kaur as the main character, and it’s a powerful story arc that’s easy to invest in emotionally. It turns out Kaur is a storyteller—and a very good one.

    She’s Not Processed

    Art in the modern age is often overly processed and commercialized. Singers are auto-tuned to perfection. Writers are more conscious and savvy about reaching a viable market than ever. Kaur charms with an aesthetic that seems to be precisely the opposite, a refreshing quality that is hopefully the beginning of a new trend. Her work pops up on social media with an immediacy that feels urgent, and her artwork has an off-the-cuff feel that reminds you of quick doodles in the margins of a book. There’s an air of honesty about it all, an emotional impact resulting from truth rather than careful attention to production values.

    Poetry is often thought of as impenetrable, but Rupi Kaur has made it imminently accessible, and in doing so, she has revolutionized an ancient art form for today.

     

    The post 5 Reasons Rupi Kaur Is the Poet of Our Times appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 6:30 pm on 2017/03/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , rupi kaur,   

    5 Modern Day Poets Who Will Legit Get You Excited About Poetry 

    Poetry—real poetry, the sort that speaks to the human condition and moves you to tears, to applause, to sudden epiphanies alone in your room at night—is powerful stuff. A great shame of the modern anti-intellectual zeitgeist is the marginalization of poetry; the more people who experience the form, the better off the world will be. The five poets below are young, and just hitting their stride with work that is simultaneously cutting edge and classic. If you’ve never considered reading poetry before, check one of these modern-day geniuses. You might just change your mind.

    Rupi Kaur. (Milk and Honey)
    Rupi Kaur, sometimes referred to as an “Instapoet,” never wanted to be a poet or a writer; she wanted to be an artist, and considered her poetry a hobby. Born in India, and now just 24 years old, her book Milk and Honey, originally self-published, has been on The New York Times bestsellers list for almost a year. Her work is rooted in her cultural and religious background as a Sikh woman, and confront, with brutal honesty, issues from feminism, to violence, to everyday frustrations and depression. She built a huge following online, posting her poems as she completed them. Representative quote: “your body is a museum of natural disasters can you grasp how stunning that is.”

    Amber Tamblyn. (Dark Sparkler)
    Resist the temptation to assume Tamblyn, a famous actress whose most recent high-profile role was on Two and a Half Men, is a vanity poet, leveraging connections to get some half-baked jottings published. Tamblyn is not only serious about it, she’s well-respected in the poetry world, and her poems are insanely great. With an acidic, darkly-hilarious voice, she draws on her experiences as a young woman and an actress. Her most recent book, Dark Sparkler, is the perfect introduction to her off-kilter work. The 38 poems inside are all about dead actresses, famous or otherwise, and slowly build a very grim view of the costs of Hollywood stardom—especially on young women seeking fame and success. Representative quote: “Logline: A woman fights to save her soul. Think a young Carole Lombard meets a younger Anna Nicole. Requires an actress that will leave an audience speechless, who’s found her creative voice. Not a speaking role.”

    Kei Miller. (The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion)
    Jamaican-born Miller writes poems that writhe and twist, pulling you along with lines that wrap into the next, never giving you a comfortable place to pause and gather your thoughts. Her focus is on moments in history, though not always the most famous or obvious ones—the poem quoted below was inspired by composer John Cage’s As Slow As Possible, a song that will take 639 years to perform if all goes as planned (that is a very real thing). He uses those moments to explore language and its evolution—the way it can illuminate and betray, sometimes all at once. The winner of the 2014 Forward Prize, you’re probably going to hear more from Miller in the coming years—and that is a very good thing. Representative quote: “The longest song begins like a comma, a rest that lasts for eighteen months. Long enough that when the first chord is heard, surprising
    as an extinct bird come back to life, many cannot stop their tears.”

    Sherman Alexie. (Face)
    Alexie draws on his Native American heritage and his own personal life for his poetry, which almost always tells a story (Alexie is a celebrated writer of those, too). His poems sketch moments from his life, moments that actually happened, and which likely came and went in a flash—but are imbued with infinite meaning and possibility once filtered through Alexie’s keyboard. This allows us to experience a point-of-view that we may not be familiar with through the reenactment of a universal experience, a dizzying perspective-shift that is powerful, beautiful, and compelling. And his self-deprecating humor is often laugh-out-loud funny. Representative Quote: “Dull and jealous, I was the smallest part
    Of the whole. I know this is stupid stuff
    But I felt less important than the farthest star.”

    Morgan Parker. (There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce)
    Reading Morgan Parker’s poems is like being woken up, or dragged up to the surface after a lifetime underneath. She’s angry, smart, and perceptive, and her poems are of the moment in a way few other writers attempt, much less succeed at. As you might guess from the title of her most recent collection, she’s got pop culture on lock and uses it to address issues of racism, feminism, sexism, and just about anything else that women and minorities have to deal with today—which is everything. In some ways, Parker is the ideal poet to read right now, especially pieces like “If You Are Over Staying Woke” and “Two White Girls in the African Braid Shop on Marcy and Fulton.” Representative quote: “Bodies so black they syrup. Hair so black there are no windows. The smell of burnt rope. How long will it be. How long do you want it. I know you. I wish I were you. I want to drag my toes in something I finally own. Do you know it only gets worse from here. Cash only.”

    The post 5 Modern Day Poets Who Will Legit Get You Excited About Poetry appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 6:30 pm on 2017/03/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , rupi kaur,   

    5 Modern Day Poets Who Will Legit Get You Excited About Poetry 

    Poetry—real poetry, the sort that speaks to the human condition and moves you to tears, to applause, to sudden epiphanies alone in your room at night—is powerful stuff. A great shame of the modern anti-intellectual zeitgeist is the marginalization of poetry; the more people who experience the form, the better off the world will be. The five poets below are young, and just hitting their stride with work that is simultaneously cutting edge and classic. If you’ve never considered reading poetry before, check one of these modern-day geniuses. You might just change your mind.

    Rupi Kaur. (Milk and Honey)
    Rupi Kaur, sometimes referred to as an “Instapoet,” never wanted to be a poet or a writer; she wanted to be an artist, and considered her poetry a hobby. Born in India, and now just 24 years old, her book Milk and Honey, originally self-published, has been on The New York Times bestsellers list for almost a year. Her work is rooted in her cultural and religious background as a Sikh woman, and confront, with brutal honesty, issues from feminism, to violence, to everyday frustrations and depression. She built a huge following online, posting her poems as she completed them. Representative quote: “your body is a museum of natural disasters can you grasp how stunning that is.”

    Amber Tamblyn. (Dark Sparkler)
    Resist the temptation to assume Tamblyn, a famous actress whose most recent high-profile role was on Two and a Half Men, is a vanity poet, leveraging connections to get some half-baked jottings published. Tamblyn is not only serious about it, she’s well-respected in the poetry world, and her poems are insanely great. With an acidic, darkly-hilarious voice, she draws on her experiences as a young woman and an actress. Her most recent book, Dark Sparkler, is the perfect introduction to her off-kilter work. The 38 poems inside are all about dead actresses, famous or otherwise, and slowly build a very grim view of the costs of Hollywood stardom—especially on young women seeking fame and success. Representative quote: “Logline: A woman fights to save her soul. Think a young Carole Lombard meets a younger Anna Nicole. Requires an actress that will leave an audience speechless, who’s found her creative voice. Not a speaking role.”

    Kei Miller. (The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion)
    Jamaican-born Miller writes poems that writhe and twist, pulling you along with lines that wrap into the next, never giving you a comfortable place to pause and gather your thoughts. Her focus is on moments in history, though not always the most famous or obvious ones—the poem quoted below was inspired by composer John Cage’s As Slow As Possible, a song that will take 639 years to perform if all goes as planned (that is a very real thing). He uses those moments to explore language and its evolution—the way it can illuminate and betray, sometimes all at once. The winner of the 2014 Forward Prize, you’re probably going to hear more from Miller in the coming years—and that is a very good thing. Representative quote: “The longest song begins like a comma, a rest that lasts for eighteen months. Long enough that when the first chord is heard, surprising
    as an extinct bird come back to life, many cannot stop their tears.”

    Sherman Alexie. (Face)
    Alexie draws on his Native American heritage and his own personal life for his poetry, which almost always tells a story (Alexie is a celebrated writer of those, too). His poems sketch moments from his life, moments that actually happened, and which likely came and went in a flash—but are imbued with infinite meaning and possibility once filtered through Alexie’s keyboard. This allows us to experience a point-of-view that we may not be familiar with through the reenactment of a universal experience, a dizzying perspective-shift that is powerful, beautiful, and compelling. And his self-deprecating humor is often laugh-out-loud funny. Representative Quote: “Dull and jealous, I was the smallest part
    Of the whole. I know this is stupid stuff
    But I felt less important than the farthest star.”

    Morgan Parker. (There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce)
    Reading Morgan Parker’s poems is like being woken up, or dragged up to the surface after a lifetime underneath. She’s angry, smart, and perceptive, and her poems are of the moment in a way few other writers attempt, much less succeed at. As you might guess from the title of her most recent collection, she’s got pop culture on lock and uses it to address issues of racism, feminism, sexism, and just about anything else that women and minorities have to deal with today—which is everything. In some ways, Parker is the ideal poet to read right now, especially pieces like “If You Are Over Staying Woke” and “Two White Girls in the African Braid Shop on Marcy and Fulton.” Representative quote: “Bodies so black they syrup. Hair so black there are no windows. The smell of burnt rope. How long will it be. How long do you want it. I know you. I wish I were you. I want to drag my toes in something I finally own. Do you know it only gets worse from here. Cash only.”

    The post 5 Modern Day Poets Who Will Legit Get You Excited About Poetry appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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