Rupi Kaur, a Canadian poet, writer, and spoken-word artist, may only be 24 years old, with only one book published to date. But, insists her publisher, Kirsty Melville, the president of Andrews McMeel Publishing’s book division, Kaur is already “an amazing force” who is being hailed by some as “the voice of her generation.” Kaur’s message of hope is resonating with people of all ages—primarily female—all over the world, who are following her on social media, buying Milk and Honey, her debut poetry collection, and flocking to her spoken-word performances.
Milk and Honey is a collection of poems accompanied by simple line drawings that explore themes of love, loss, heartbreak, sexual abuse, and what it means to be a young woman in today’s world. After initially posting her poems on Instagram and Tumblr, Kaur self-published the collection in 2014 and sold more than 10,000 copies.
AMP’s expanded edition of Milk and Honey, released in October 2015, has sold 800,000 copies to date. After more than 20 print runs, there are now more than one million copies in print. Milk and Honey has perched on the New York Times bestseller list for 33 weeks, currently at #3, and was on the PW bestseller list for 37 weeks (it fell off the list in early November, 52 weeks after its pub date, when, according to PW’s bestseller guidelines, it became a backlist book, and was thus ineligible to be included on the ranking). The book also has been among the top-three trade paper bestsellers at Barnes & Noble for months.
“Kaur’s message of self-empowerment really speaks to people, especially after the election,” Melville explains, noting that, since the November election, she has seen photos of young women demonstrating against Donald Trump with picket signs that quote from Kaur’s poems.
“She gives people the confidence to confront and overcome their trauma, sadness, and grief,” Melville says. “People need to feel some hope. Her words are transformative.”
Kaur’s appearances at universities, bookstores, and book festivals, such as a recent appearance at the Sharjah Book Fair, have drawn as many as 800 people, Melville says. These people, she explains, “want to see her, experience her, and be healed by her.”
Kaur’s fans will soon have more poems to read. In an agreement signed in October, AMP and Simon & Schuster Canada reached a deal with Kaur for two new poetry collections; the two houses will share world English rights. The first of the two collections is scheduled to be released in fall 2017, and the second in 2018.