Washing the shame away with their words.
There are few things as uplifting as seeing a sea of feminist poems flooding the newsfeeds of my Facebook and Instagram. Words and mantras that water the everyday strife of being a woman.
A favourite among young social media users is Rupi Kaur, the author of Milk and Honey, a collection of deeply personal poetry overflowing with wise and wonderful words that describe the wonders and struggles of being a female millennial in a patriarchal society.
Kaur creatively evokes hyper-real imagery with her use of emotive and empowering verses. Flare recently referred to her as “the patron saint of millennial heartbreak”, and with over a million copies of her first collection in print, that’s not too hard to believe.
Why do female millennials boast such a deep connection with Kaur’s work? “I read that the thing we’re most afraid to say is the thing that’s most universal,” Kaur adds, “So when folks see the book, it’s a reflection of themselves.”
Kaur’s book is divided into four segments – the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and the healing. She tackles these themes with a combination of femininity, love, loss and trauma. The lower-case poems are brave, honest and embrace both the light and the dark of being human, of being a woman.
28-year–old British-Somali writer and poet Warsan Shire is known for her prolific stance as a refugee and Black feminist. She has become well known for her vast array of influential books and poems, but most strikingly for being the woman that gave poetry to Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Shire’s “For Women Who Are Difficult to Love,” was adapted throughout the visual album.
“You can’t make homes out of human beings someone should have already told you that and if he wants to leave then let him leave you are terrifying and strange and beautiful something not everyone knows how to love.” –Warsan Shire
Shire does not only draw from her own personal experiences but also the experiences of those around her.
She is quoted saying, “I either know, or I am every person I have written about, for or as. But I do imagine them in their most intimate settings.”
Shire’s principal interest is writing about and for people who are predominantly not heard otherwise, namely immigrants and refugees, as well as other marginalised groups of people.
With the rise of feminist poets, we find their words drowning out the drone of catcalls, objectifying statements and general everyday condescending banter.
May we too find ourselves swimming along with their courageous stream. May we too rise and fall and speak openly through it all. There is strength in our words, even more so when they are spoken.