Don’t Tell Rupi Kaur She Looks Tired

In her latest book Home Body, poet Rupi Kaur writes:

You look tired he says

I turn to him and say 

Yeah I’m exhausted 

I’ve been fighting misogny for decades

How else do you expect me to look 

“Getting told I look tired, especially if I’m fully rested, is one of my biggest pet peeves,” says Kaur as she shares a story on Instagram of sitting next to a stranger during a business meeting and being on the receiving end of the offense. “I’ve had dark circles under my eyes since I was in grade one, but that exchange and writing it down is how I learned to roar.”

In a year when women are shouldering a much heavier workload and experiencing severe stress symptoms, the pandemic has shed light on the fact that burnout—even if it looks and feels a little different than it used to—is very real. 

And as a love letter to the tribe that’s been on the journey with her, Kaur is releasing her first poetry special, Rupi Kaur Live. In this self-released film premiering April 30, 2021, at 9 p.m. ET on rupikaur.veeps.com, the poet takes her audience on a journey of trauma and loss and lifts them into a place of healing and wholeness. “Many of you only know me for the books and the poetry,” says Kaur, “but the way we come alive together is on stage.” Here, Kaur opens up about her live special, the effects of the past year, and redefining rest. 

Glamour: First off, how are you feeling right now?

Rupi Kaur: I feel like there’s so much heaviness, especially this year. And it’s a culmination of the weight of your own life, and then the weight of everything else that is going on: these mass shootings, the COVID situation in India where over 3,000 people are dying every day, half a million farmers are still protesting, fascism, climate change. That’s my brain right now.

So with everything going on, where did the idea for Rupi Kaur Live come from? Talk me through the inception of choosing to go on tour as a poet?

I’m known and recognized for the short pieces that I post on Instagram. But that journey started over 11 years ago for me. And it began on stage. As a teenager in a working-class immigrant family and not having family support in the arts, I needed to take control of my life. And that somehow led to me being at this open mic night, which went against all of my characters. I grew up saying very little and being painfully shy, but that night something just snapped in me. To be a teenager who feels like she doesn’t have a voice and to have 20 people look up at her and listen was the most magnificent thing that I had ever felt. I didn’t even know it was performing poetry.

In your poetry, you talk about love, heartache, depression, abuse, womanhood, and immigration. What’s been the most meaningful exploration?

The poems about women make me the happiest, but what heals me is when I write the difficult topics, my journey [with] sexual abuse and toxic relationships. It’s cathartic at the time that I’m writing them.

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