Open Minds 2018: Soft Power

Rupi Kaur, Poet

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Love her, hate her, but you cannot ignore this Indo-Canadian poet, writer, illustrator and performer. She published her first collection of poems milk and honey (she does not believe in capitalisation) in 2014, which sold over a million copies (an unheard of figure for poetry) and has been translated into over 30 languages. Her second collection, the sun and her flowers, was published in 2017.

My first readers and fans were young brown women. I am a young brown woman, so naturally, I was like, ‘They are the only group of women who would relate.’ That circle kept widening to the point where people I never imagined are picking up my books and it’s absolutely wild and incredible

On Instagram, 2.6 million followers get to sample her poetry, which can be brilliant at times and cloying at others. The 25-year-old writes with fire, ‘i like cartwheels and gymnastics so i can’t imagine / walking around with my thighs pressed together / like they’re hiding a secret / as if the acceptance of my own body parts / will invite thoughts of lust in their heads’. In carefully choreographed photos on social media, she presents herself as the young granddaughter from Punjab, the prima donna on stage, the model on magazine covers. She is all of that and more.

Complete List of Open Minds 2018: Public Square

Salman Rushdie, Author | Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Political scientist | Nandan Nilekani, Infosys Chairman | Srinath Raghavan, Historian | Ram Madhav, BJP Leader | Swapan Dasgupta, Political commentator and MP | Shashi Tharoor, Scholar Politician | TCA Raghavan, Historian | Ramachandra Guha, Historian | Brahma Chellaney, Strategic thinker | Uday Shankar, President, 21st Century Fox, Asia | Anantha Chandrakasan, Technologist | Gita Gopinath, Economist | Soumya Swaminathan, Paediatrician and clinical scientist | Prasoon Joshi, Poet and Censor Board chairman | Madhav Khosla, Scholar | Sidharth Luthra, Lawyer | Shayara Bano, Triple Talaq Petitioner | Reuben Abraham, Economic Analyst | Pratima Joshi, Architect | Reetika Khera, Economist | Shamika Ravi, Economist | Sharmila Bhattacharya, Scientist | Vijay Prasad, Historian | Nayanjot Lahiri, Historian | Avani Chaturvedi, Fighter Pilot, IAF | Pranshu and Nishant Patni, Entrepreneurs

Complete List of Open Minds 2018: Soft Power

Virat Kohli, Captain, Indian Cricket Team | Priyanka Chopra, Actor | Jeet Thayil, Author | Anju Dodiya, Artist | Alia Bhatt, Actor | Rajkummar Rao, Actor | Chetan Bhagat, Author | Jahnvi Dameron Nandan, Perfumer | Rupi Kaur, Poet | Parvathy Thiruvothu, Actor | Sujatha Gidla, Author | Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi, Architect | Prayaag Akbar, Author | Ruchika Sachdeva, Fashion Designer | Palghat R Ramprasad, Carnatic musician | Unni R, Author | Kunal Kamra, Comedian | Vikas Khanna, Chef and Television Personality | Shoojit Sircar, Filmmaker | Srikanth Kidambi, Badminton Player | CS Santosh, Off-Road Biking Champion | Mayank Austen Soofi, Author and Blogger | Ratish Nanda, Conservation Architect