Rupi Kaur Reads Timeless from Her Poetry Collection The Sun and Her Flowers


-I’m so happy that you’re here.
-You know, I thought I had to become like a pop star or like
an actress to get here. -No.
-But somehow, poetry is getting me into all this.
-Poetry is the new pop, man. [ Cheers and applause ]
Absolutely. I had to —
I had to talk to you because I think it was
“Milk and Honey,” what I first saw on
“The New York Times.” And I was like,
“Wait, what is this? And who is this girl?”
And I didn’t know the drawings, the poetry.
I mean, you do all of it, right? That’s all your —
-Yeah, yeah. -What’s your story?
How did you get published? -So actually, long story short,
I have been drawing since I was five years old because
I moved to Canada with my family when I was four years old.
We moved from Punjab, and I couldn’t talk to anyone
when I arrived ’cause I didn’t know any English.
And so, I couldn’t really make any friends.
And so, books became my friends. And I started to draw
and paint and write poetry. And eventually, I started to,
like, go to all these open mics. And I got — a community
of readers just showed up. And they were like,
“Where can I buy your book? Where can I buy your book?”
And I was literally cornered into a room every night
asking — people asking me where they could buy them.
-And where could they buy them? -Nowhere.
-You didn’t have — exactly. -And so then I was like,
“Okay, does somebody want to publish me?
I haven’t written a novel or anything.”
And people were like, “No, no, no.”
And I was like, “Okay, I’m on the right track here,
because I know J.K. Rowling got rejected only,
like, 500 times.” -You got to always think
of J.K., man. -Always.
-Yeah, absolutely. And so I was like,
“We’re on our way here.” And you know, I didn’t really —
I didn’t really get a yes. -Wow.
-So I decided to self-publish the book, and it was best
decision I ever made. [ Cheers and applause ] -How did you get —
How does one self-publish? How did you even get the money? How did you get
the support from who? -So the best part was that
I was broke and I was a student, and I published it with,
like, zero dollars ’cause I was able to design,
write, and edit all of it. Cause I was studying design
in school, so I laid it out. I did all the illustrations.
And, I mean — -That’s a lot of work.
-This is what I did while I was supposed to be studying
for all of my exams. So you know, all my friends were
like, “What is wrong with you? You’re supposed to be on
your way to becoming a lawyer.” You know, I wanted
to be like Amal Clooney. -Oh, yeah.
Again, J.K., Amal Clooney. These are —
-These are my — -These are people.
These are my — me too. -I know.
-I love them both. -Yeah, exactly.
-And my parents were like, “She’s not okay.”
-Yeah. “She needs help.”
-Yeah. Wow. -And then I was, like — Hmm.
And then I showed up with the book at home, and
my dad was like, “Oh, cool.” -And then, it took off.
And then you got a following from so many people,
but then also, one famous person I’m going
to bring out got a tattoo of one of your drawings.
Now, whose arm is this? That is — You can say it. -Sam Smith.
-Yeah, that’s Sam Smith’s arm. [ Cheers and applause ] So Sam Smith got a tattoo
of your drawing. I mean, do you
remember drawing this? -Yeah.
-And now — -And I was like,
“This is so ugly. I should quit right now.
Why am I doing this?” -Really?
-And then one day, there you go. -And now it’s part of his body. [ Laughter ] -And I feel so great about it.
I’m like — -You drew part
of Sam Smith’s body. -Buddy, you’re not forgetting
me, no, no, no. Yeah.
-It’s a beautiful poem as well as drawing.
It’s very, very good. -Yeah.
-What’s fun about you is that I also — I would say
Sam Smith as well. We’ve had him on the show ’cause
he writes these great songs. And they’re beautiful, and
some of them are heartbreaking. But he’s also really fun.
-Yeah. -And kind of goofy and…
-He is. -…I think you need to have
that balance if you’re going to do anything, really.
-Yeah. -‘Cause he comes on and
I kept making — I kept singing this one song of his,
and he was like, “Please stop.” [ Laughter ] He goes, “You’re
making me hate the song.” [ Laughter ] And then, he stopped singing the
song for a while in concert, and I thought
it was because of me. -Oh, no.
-And I go, “No, you have to do this.”
‘Cause I like that song — ♪ Money on my mind, money ♪♪
He’s like, “Just stop. Stop singing please.
Stop singing that.” And so I think he now —
it’s back in the thing. But, gosh.
He made fun of me last time for that.
-Yeah. -But I thought — ’cause I know
you perform live a lot. -Yeah.
-And you actually — you have to
continue to do that. You know, you can’t stop.
That’s part of your thing. -It’s like when I come to life,
I get to be this sort of — Sounds really dramatic.
I feel like I get to be the woman of my dreams
when I’m on stage. And so —
[ Cheers and applause ] -Why not?
-I just like — this whole different person
comes out, and it’s incredible. Yeah.
You have to come see me live. -I do want to see you live.
-Yes. -Where would you perform?
Where could I go see you? -Well, I’m off tour right now,
thank God. I’ve been on the road for,
like, nine months. But maybe, we might come
to New York in the fall. -Okay.
-So I’ll let you know. -You’re, like, opening
for Sam Smith. [ Laughter ]
Why not? You could.
Could I — Could I ask you to maybe read something
for us tonight? -I’d love to. Yeah.
-Is that okay? -Yeah.
[ Cheers and applause ] Let’s do this. Okay.
-I like that one. -Okay.
Can I tell everyone why I wrote it?
-Yes. -Okay.
So, I wrote this piece called “Timeless,” right, because
I published my first book, “Milk and Honey.”
And all my publishers and everybody around me —
you know what, wait. My publisher, A&P,
they’re amazing. But everybody else was like,
“All right, girl, you need to write a
second book right now. Catch the wave, or somebody else
is going to come replace you.” And I was like, “Oh, my God,
that’s so much pressure. I’m, like, 22 years old.”
What? -I didn’t write
my first one, yeah. -And so then, I wrote this poem
to sort of say, “Stop. I’ll do it when I’m ready.”
It’s called “Timeless.” They convinced me I only had
a few good years left before I was replaced
by a girl younger than me, as though men yield power
with age, but women grow into irrelevance. They can keep their lies,
for I have just gotten started. I feel as though
I just left the womb. My 20s are the warmup
for what I’m really about to do. So wait till you see me
in my 30s. Now, that will be
a proper introduction to the nasty, wild woman in me. How can I leave before
the party started? Rehearsals begin at 40. I ripen with age. I do not come with
an expiration date. And now for the main event,
curtains up at 50. Let’s begin the show. -Come on. [ Cheers and applause ] Thank you so much for doing it.
Thank you. Rupi Kaur! Thank you for making
the world a better place.