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Kaur has stated in interviews that she takes inspiration from Waheed and Shire, but Kaur works within a subgenre predicated on minimalist style — like short lines and a lack of punctuation — which makes it impossible to tell where inspiration ends and plagiarism begins.This is not the only censure Kaur's work has been subject to.Kaur’s work brings up a bevy of questions: Is her poetic engagement with trauma valid as a defense against any critique of her style?After all, honesty, vulnerability, and a willingness to tackle tough issues are valuable qualities in any writer, but content and form are ultimately separate, and one does not cancel out the other.Lauded by her readers as an authentic, intensely personal writer who isn’t afraid of baring her innermost trauma, she’s considered a much-needed voice of diversity in a literary scene that’s overwhelmingly white.But she’s also been accused of plagiarism and criticized for blurring individual and collective trauma in her quest to depict the quintessential South Asian female experience.Kaur’s explosive success is largely due to her origins as a social media star, and she is not alone.Like her peers Nayyirah Waheed, Lang Leav, and, to a lesser extent, Warsan Shire (whose work is more complex and has received more critical acclaim), Kaur produces bite-size, accessible poems.
Her readers, however, do not mount a defense based on the quality of Kaur’s language; rather, they cite her openness about personal trauma in response to critiques of her work, suggesting that such honesty, particularly from a woman of color, exempts her from accusations of superficiality.Or, the pseudo-apologies released by accused celebrities in hopes of salvaging their careers without taking any real responsibility for their actions.It's these types of statements in particular that drove Isobel O'Hare to create the erasure poems that are currently taking over Twitter and Instagram."The idea came from this feeling I've been sitting with (that a lot of us have been sitting with) of being triggered and overwhelmed by the constant barrage of new reports of abuse, which are heart-wrenching, followed by hollow PR statements from the accused that seem more self-pitying and deflective than remorseful," O'Hare, who got her MFA in poetry in 2015 and is currently studying to be an herbalist, told Refinery29."I think of poems as spells, and the foundation of a spell is the desire for transformation.Their free verse poetry eschews difficult metaphors in favor of clear, plain language, and this accessibility is precisely what has garnered the new wave of "Instapoets" such a large and dedicated following.But in terms of sheer numbers, Kaur remains the most popular — and the most controversial.