Not since the Beat movement of the 1950s – when black turtlenecks and jazz were de rigeur, and the likes of Jack Kerouac and Diane di Prima were bona fide celebrities – has poetry been as ‘cool’ as it is right now. Music festivals including Glastonbury, Bestival and Reading now feature poetry stages, while the popularity of spoken-word nights in bars, pubs and theatres around the UK continues to rise.
Social media, of course, has played a major role in poetry’s new cachet. On YouTube, young female artists such as Kate Tempest, Jess Green and Cecilia Knapp rack up thousands of views for their intimate, compelling performance poetry videos, while others prefer the purely audio medium of Soundcloud.
But over on Instagram, the undisputed queen of poetry is Rupi Kaur.
Born in the Punjab before emigrating to Toronto with her family as a child, Kaur’s sparse, wrenching poems cover huge themes – love, feminism, national identity, race, heartbreak and body image – with a weight and wisdom belying her 24 years. If she’s not the voice of a generation, her 652,000 Instagram followers and bestselling book suggests she's certainly one of them.
We’ve selected our favourite pieces of Kaur’s poetic wisdom. Happy reading.