Southern Fried Poetry Slam Louisville tournament/Kapur Tackles Censorship – Poetry News Roundup June 8th

Today, our round-up looks at the Southern Fried Poetry Slam”s Louisville tournament, and Rupi Kapur”s attempt to tackle censorship.

Southern Fried Poetry Slam

This week will see the arrival of a major spoken work tournament, the Southern Fried Poetry Slam, which will be arriving in Louisville.

This year will be the 30th annual competition and it will run from today until the end of the week. This will be the first in-person competition since before the Covid-19 pandemic. There will be both slam poetry teams and individuals competing for a range of different prizes, all before a panel of expert judges.

The event which first came into being in the early 1990s always takes place in a city in the southeast of the USA. This will be the second time that it has been hosted in Louisville.

The first few days of the competition will see a number of different “bouts” taking place with the finals all scheduled to take place on the last night.

The event is described by the organisers as being something that not only brings an artistic element to the city but, despite the competitive nature, a real family spirit as well.

Rupi Kaur Tackles Censors

Since she became an Instagram sensation just a few years ago the Canadian poet Rupi Kaur has become no stranger to controversy. She has knocked heads with potential censors, had a run-in with Instagram over an image that contained menstrual blood and even been the subject of a possible ban on her books from the American Education system.

A part of the “Instapoet” sensation, Kaur, who was born in the Punjab, self-published her first collection of poetry in 2014. There is no subject that is taboo when it comes to what she chooses to write about – mental health, sexual violence, immigration. She has written about them all and more and it is this candour that has not only earned her over 4.5 million followers, but has also seen her becoming the subject of many pressure groups that would like her to be banned.

A number of states in the US, including Oregon and Texas are looking to ban, or have already banned, “Milk and Honey” her first book from their libraries and schools.

Speaking at the launch of her latest book “Home Body” during a stage show which took place in Ottawa, Kaur said that it breaks her heart that there are people who are trying to ban her book, a ban which she feels is a refusal by those individuals to contemplate that violence and sexual assault are things that are not experienced by young women.

Kaur moved to Canada with her parents at the age of four, she grew up with talk of protests, human rights and revolution forming much of their dinner party conversation. It is natural that these types of themes should therefore be a huge part of her poetry.

Growing up she was drawn to the work of Khalil Gibran, the Lebanese-American poet, and it is this influence that pushed her to write her own poems in the first person. She writes without capitals in a nod to Punjabi, her native language.

The censors worry her, but she is determined that they will not have the final say.

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