'Poetry's Beyoncé': on Rupi Kaur and the commodifying effects of instapoetics

Miller, Alyson 2019, 'Poetry's Beyoncé': on Rupi Kaur and the commodifying effects of instapoetics, Axon: creative explorations, vol. 9, no. 1.

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Title 'Poetry's Beyoncé': on Rupi Kaur and the commodifying effects of instapoetics
Author(s) Miller, AlysonORCID iD for Miller, Alyson orcid.org/0000-0003-4884-1821
Journal name Axon: creative explorations
Volume number 9
Issue number 1
Total pages 14
Publisher University of Canberra, Faculty of Arts and Design
Place of publication Canberra, A.C.T.
Publication date 2019-05
Keyword(s) Instapoetry
Rupi Kaur
Summary Focusing on the controversy surrounding Rupi Kaur, and the Instapoetry of which she has become representative, this paper examines how the poet unsettles notions of genre, gender, and race in order to reveal anxieties about the imbrication of women, trauma, and power. By mobilising a fraught narrative of identity concerned with marginality, and by harnessing a multimodal platform that embraces both ‘high’ and ‘low’ forms of expression, Kaur undoubtedly troubles the borderlines, and highly successfully. Her debut self-published collection milk and honey (2014) sold over 3 million copies, remaining on the New York Times bestseller list for a consecutive 100 weeks. Marketed as a ‘social media star’ and lauded by dedicated followers, Kaur has been described as a ‘millennial publishing sensation’ and, even more impressively, ‘poetry’s Beyoncé’ (Roy 2018). Kaur as Instapoet is framed as an activist who resists and rejects authority, turning from the status quo to highlight the structural inequalities that have traditionally sought to keep the ‘other’ on the outside. Yet as this paper contends, the persona offered by Kaur is one that problematically uses the confessional mode to blur the lines between what is being offered by the poems of milk and honey, and the extra-textual discourses in which they are framed. The dichotomy effecting Instapoetry, then, is not about those impossible questions concerning what constitutes ‘good’ or valued art. Alternatively, arguments about the genre reveal a complex cultural politics through which the potential to transgress the split between self and other has been co-opted by cult-personalities such as Kaur, whose rhetoric of difference reveals only an astute act of commodification.
Language eng
Field of Research 190402 Creative Writing (incl Playwriting)
200205 Culture, Gender, Sexuality
Socio Economic Objective 970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2019, The Author
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30122389

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