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Poetry

800 Screaming Fans In A Los Angeles Theatre!
Rock Star? Hollywood Diva?
No, Rupi Kaur … Reading Poetry!

EVA RECINOS

 

 

 





“you ask if we can still be friends ...”


Not a second after these two lines tumble out of Rupi Kaur’s mouth, the crowd explodes into cheers.

On October 19, 2017, the 880-seat Aratani Theatre in Los Angeles was packed as far as the eye could see with avid fans clutching a copy of Rupi’s new poetry collection, ‘The Sun and Her Flowers’.

Rupi wore a loose dress with giant flowers on it, a nod to her new book’s title, theme and artwork.

That a poet can fill out such a huge space and still somehow make it feel like a slumber party should be surprise enough; we found out later in the night, though, that Rupi has a stylist. Her Instagram photo says the floral dress is Gucci.

Rupi doesn’t fit the typical mold of a poet. She's made Instagram her medium, much to the chagrin of many writers and critics. Many articles describe her as an “Instagram poet,” an important distinction from just a regular, more serious poet ?). A recent profile makes her seem aloof and nearly vapid.

Writer Chiara Giovanni argued in a lengthy BuzzFeed article that Rupi’s poetry “claims to be documenting a specifically [Sikh] experience that never materializes.” Instead, Giovanni argues, Rupi plays it safe in order to read universal and appeal to a “Western audience.”

But here are the facts: Rupi Kaur filled a huge theater with young people who left with books in hand. She had fans screaming at the uttering of a few words — a testament to the power of the written word in a digital time. She covered breakups, body hair, immigration, sex, all while swaying in front of the microphone, often with a hand out in front of her.

Whether you praise or question Rupi’s authenticity, what proves more interesting is the crowd at her reading. One fan pulls down her shirt slightly, showing off a tattoo. They are lines from one of Rupi’s poems, she says. A fan nearby asks if she can take a picture.

At one point, two fans get called onto the stage. One of them wears a floral dress and Rupi compliments her on it. “I wore it in honor of you,” she quips. They take turns reading lines from “to do list (after the breakup)" from ‘Milk and Honey‘.

At the end of the reading, the audience starts to give Rupi a standing ovation but she is gone before the last row of people gets up.

When the crowd pours out of the doors and into the brisk Los Angeles night, the group grows loud and excited. The light to cross starts to change but the crowd charges forward, forcing cars to stop until everyone made it to the other side.

It seems as if the energy might turn into a spark, then a fire. The group is riled up, almost as if ready to rip newspaper stands off their sidewalk roots while screaming obscenities against the patriarchy.

A man in a button-up shirt shoulders his way through the crowd, looking confused.

It feels as if the night left so many minds buzzing: brains ready to talk about periods and body hair over bowls of ramen; to blast Beyoncé in the car on the way home; to sit down and scribble a few drawings and poems into a journal.


[Courtesy: Los Angeles Weekly. Edited for sikhchic.com]
October 27, 2017
 

Conversation about this article

1: Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Khalsa-Michaud (Plano, Texas, USA), October 31, 2017, 7:21 PM.

You go, girl!

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Rock Star? Hollywood Diva?
No, Rupi Kaur … Reading Poetry!"









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