Rupi Kaur Reads Poetry to Unravel Our Identities

Megan Leo, News Editor

On Thursday, February 25, renowned poet Rupi Kaur performed selections from her best-selling poetry collection Milk and Honey in Donovan’s Pub. The event was co-sponsored by Sisters of the Round Table (SORT) and Lounge in honor of Africana Women’s Week.

Sophomore SORT member Chinyere Okogeri served as the emcee for the event, which was officially titled “The Thickness with Rupi Kaur,” and she explained the purpose of Africana Women’s Week.

“For those who don’t know, Africana Women’s Week is roughly one to two weeks that we celebrate through SORT every spring semester, and we celebrate the work of women of color,” Okogeri said.

Before inviting Kaur to the stage, Okogeri gave the microphone to various members of the Colgate community for an opportunity to express their personal experiences through poetry, music and dance. Okogeri, in introducing the open-microphone portion of the event, spoke to the decision to start with community members’ stories.

“The purpose of tonight is to explore the multitudes of the thickness of our identities, and I want to thank you all for coming out to help unravel that thickness with us,” Okogeri said.

After students, staff and an alumnae performed, Okogeri introduced Rupi Kaur on behalf of SORT and the Lounge.

“We chose Rupi because she’s amazing. All of her work is really just unraveling the thickness of her identity through works of healing, love, breaking, everything. Ms. Kaur’s raw engagement with prose, metaphors and challenging topics about everyday life as a woman of color allows her work to resonate for her reader and her audience. It’s a pleasure to have Ms. Rupi Kaur here tonight, to have her unravel some of this thickness,” Okogeri said.

Accompanied by only a water bottle and her book, Kaur modestly stepped onto the stage, making small talk with the audience as she prepared to perform.

“I got here less than an hour ago, I think this is probably the smallest town I’ve ever performed in – no offense. It’s very beautiful, though,” Kaur said.

Kaur prefaced her performance with the explanation that she would not be reading from a prepared list of poems.

“Every time I come to a show, I come with a list, and then I get here and I’m like, ‘Screw it, I want to do something else,’ so most of what I’m performing, I haven’t read in a couple of month. If I forget, do forgive me,” Kaur said.

Over the course of an hour, Kaur’s poems touched upon topics of puberty, womanhood, sexuality, family and personal identity.

Though Kaur is a celebrated spoken word poet and artist, she interacted frequently with her audience, and sometimes looked for reassurance that her work was resonating.

“Am I going too fast? Okay, because I’ve been running around all day and I feel like I’m running around with my words on stage right now,” Kaur said.

Kaur also spoke to the personal nature of her work.

“I feel like I’m getting naked in front of a hundred million people,” Kaur said.

First-year Gabrielle Durr appreciated Kaur’s vulnerability.

“I was moved by the way one woman could verbalize some of the deepest truths about how it feels to be human,” Durr said.

Before performing her final poem, Kaur expressed a desire to continue reading to the audience.

“I’m already over time, but whatever. I see everybody’s face and you’re all so beautiful. Why the hell would I ever stop?” Kaur said.