Rupi Kaur uses poetry to come home to herself

‘Home Body’s four chapters explore trauma to find empowerment

Kaur’s latest work is a thought-provoking read.
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This article discusses sexual assault and may be triggering for some readers. The Kingston Sexual Assault Centre’s 24-hour crisis and support phone line can be reached at 613-544-6424 / 1-800-544-6424. The Centre’s online chat feature can be reached here.

Rupi Kaur is an Indian-born Canadian poet whose books of poetry are admired for their beautiful aesthetic and raw telling of relationships, sexual assault, and healing.

In her newest book, Home Body, poetry is catharsis. Kaur tackles past trauma across four chapters—titled “Mind,” “Heart,” “Rest,” and “Awake”—and uses her writing to climb out of unhealthy situations while bridging the gap between hope and reality.

The first chapter, “Mind,” suggests that while we often know what’s best for ourselves, doing the right thing for our health and wellbeing is much easier said than done.

“you lose everything / when you don’t love yourself / and gain everything when you do.”

From these lines, Kaur recognizes a need to love herself but also the challenges in doing so. She uses poetry to remind herself of the importance of self-love and to build a foundation for loving herself in other parts of her life.

While “Mind” examines Kaur’s beliefs and values, “Heart” discusses how connection plays in healing. In this chapter, she begins to live the life she described in “Mind,” writing, “it took me getting into a healthy relationship / to realize that i shouldn’t be scared / of the person i love.”

In “Heart,” Kaur recognizes the unhealthy patterns of her past and grieves for the life she missed out on as the victim of sexual abuse.

Even as Kaur sees changes in her life, there are times when she falls short of her expectations and reverts back to old patterns. The third part of her book, “Rest,” is a reminder to give herself grace when she fails to live up to her own standards.

Kaur writes, “i don’t care about perfection / i’d rather roll deep / in the messiness of life.”

There’s no such thing as perfection in art, which often makes poetry beautiful. Kaur’s poetry is admirable for its honesty and rawness. Letting go of perfection seems to be what allows Kaur to embrace her struggles and live with her past finally.

Kaur named the final chapter of her collection “Awake,” implying a vigor found after rest and self-reflection. In it, Kaur is empowered to share her trauma, validate others who have had similar experiences, and find a connection.

In her words: “our wounds are the reason / i started writing poetry / every word / i’ve ever written was to / lead us back into our arms.” 

By the end of Home Body, Kaur is using poetry to recenter herself in her values when the world around her is chaotic or uncertain. The book is an illustration of how writing heals—there’s empowerment to be found in exploring trauma through words.

Home Body reminds readers that while writing can’t change or fix what people have gone through, it can foster the acceptance and openness people need to feel at home in themselves.

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