Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about persistence. So often the message we hear about persistence is that we just need to decide to keep going , and what is often missing from the conversation is how to regularly fill our well so that we have something to give to others and to the daily commitments we want to honour in our lives.
When I take the time to pray calmly for example, prayer fills my well, when I go for a walk and spend time spaces of greenery I rejuvenate my soul, and in November, rupi kaur’s Vancouver show for her new poetry collection “The Sun and the Flowers” was a source of life-giving water.
Here are some of the things that I particularly appreciated about the night:
- The poems and stories that rupi kaur shared were about her. They were about her family, her breakups, her healing, her loves, her parents, her family’s immigration story. She did not turn her gaze elsewhere. She did not make the night about whiteness. She spoke about herself, and through telling those stories, she demonstrated that we all have stories worth telling. Hearing poems that were centered on her was powerful and I left the show with a full cup of reflections and hope.
2. A representative audience is powerful. The first time I attended a performance with people that looked like me was in February 2017 at Hasan Minhaj’s s show Homecoming King at the Vancouver Playhouse. That was the first time I had attended a performance that felt like it was meant for me, and rupi kaur’s performance at the Orpheum was the second. There were people in saris, there were people in kurtas, and rupi kaur in between poems told stories about her mum rocking her punjabi suit at Costco. Seeing a sold out venue filled with people who looked like me made me want to create art myself. Beside me in my row I met two people I didn’t know and we spoke about an awesome new webseries on Telus Optik called Welcome To Surrey” , the podcast “The Chosen Khan” and why some of rupi kaur’s poetry speaks to us. Having common reference points and not having to explain anything was a relief.
3. Hearing stories in community is different from reading alone. Though not all of rupi kaur’s poetry speaks to me, she has a few poems that make the whole collection worth it for me. During her Vancouver show, she recited some of those poems, including “Broken English”, “I’m sorry I called you pretty”, “Things I would tell my mother on her wedding day”, and finally, a line about her mother that tears me up every time:
” I think of your strength when I’m about to shatter and harden.”
She shared stories of reclaiming pleasure, overcoming breakups, thriving after breaking and trying once again to find love after multiple setbacks, The response of the audience to each poem was powerful and electric and seeing others identify with her poetry and words was a reminder that struggle and failure and challenge is not a solo experience, and building again after challenge is possible.
What are your favourite poems from the collection or moments from the show? I’d love to hear from you.