Thinking about Kaur and her success reminds me of another young, talented, Canadian artist: Drake. Both Kaur and Drizzy are among the most successful artists in their respective fields, now and of all time. Whether you like them or the genres they operate in or not, chances are you’ve heard of them. And if you look into their numbers, you’d see that their success is not a matter of opinion, it’s a fact. So, objectively speaking, they must be the best, right?
I stopped using the TTC when I discovered that I could bike my way through the city instead. I bike my way now through shadowy neighbourhoods, through the slips and knots of intersections. At the intersection of Bloor and Yonge, I enter the interdimensional shift of this land we call Toronto. Sacred and occupied Anishinaabe land. Sometimes you don’t claim the land, the land claims you.
With the end of 2019 came lists and awards from media outlets about the past ten years in review. Among these was the declaration by The New Republic that Rupi Kaur was their writer of the decade. Kaur, at only twenty-seven years old, is known as an “Instapoet,” and owes much of her success to her highly popular Instagram account where she publishes short poems accompanied by distinct line drawings. Kaur currently has 3.9 million followers, and her posts alternate between coloured photos—often of Kaur herself—and poems made up of black text on a white background. Social media poetry tends to follow a similar structure: aesthetic, brief, and easily digestible.
I have seen so many reviews of books which try to convince you to pick it up and read using a string of adjectives. This novel is inspiring, confident, delightful. The prose (it is always prose) is handsome, remarkable, elegant. The dialogue is crisp, witty, fit for the screen. I am always left unconvinced by this language. I want to read good books, books that could be called delightful or elegant or what have you. But what I really value in writing is its ability to engage me deeply.
“An autobiography is a book a person writes about his own life and it is usually full of all sorts of boring details,” wrote Roald Dahl in Boy: Tales of Childhood, in which he, rather ironically, describes his childhood and the experiences that influenced him into becoming an author. Autobiographies and memoirs have been present in literature for centuries.
“What are the colours of your body?” She asks me. As if she cannot see for herself what I am.
As if she cannot believe her eyes.