Photo credit: Baljit Singh
The songs you’ll find in this playlist are the ones I listened to while writing The Sun and Her Flowers
. The songs that made me feel the emotions I wanted to write about. The ones that helped me overcome my own personal struggles, gave me strength, and sat with me through the writing process. Some of them are simply nostalgic and will help the reader get a better sense of the five different chapters of poetry.
"Yeh Jo Halka Halka Suroor Hai" by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Listen to this before beginning the book.
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Most days, I began the writing process by listening to this. It was the warm-up before the writing — like the way you stretch before exercising. It allowed me to ready myself for the day ahead, and to dive into the emotions I was going to explore. The words and metaphors in the song are intensively deep — they don’t even exist in English. Therefore, I would challenge myself to capture certain emotions and feelings with the vocabulary English provided me. This song fits into the themes of chapter four ("rising") — the chapter with love poetry. A lot of poetry in Hindi, Urdu, and Punjabi uses nature metaphors to talk about love, and this music inspired me to do the same.
"The Light" by The Album leaf
Listen to this while reading the poetry
I’ve been writing to this song since 2012. I usually listen to instrumental music while writing. Whenever I feel a block — or I'm unable to write — this particular song gets me into a space where I can easily begin free-writing and opening myself up to ideas. It’s the most played tune in my iTunes playlist.
"I'm Not the Only One" by Sam Smith
Listen to this in the middle of chapter one ("wilting").
One of my all-time favorite songs. It brings me to tears! And when it does, you'd better believe I get my notebook and pencil out to write! Sam’s voice — along with the lyrics and instruments — come together to create a euphoric feeling of love and pain. My favorite part is 1:33 when this particular instrument dips in. You hear it again at 1:38. That moment: my heart skips a beat when listening to that sound. That’s the feeling I wanted to capture. I listened to this song on repeat to write a poem that would make my heart feel the same way.
"Send My Love (To Your New Lover)" by Adele
Listen to this at the end of chapter one.
This song offers such a unique perspective for a love song. When writing love poetry, I also want to talk about the trials in love that may not be popularly discussed. This song inspired me to think outside the box when writing about popular themes. It taught me to write love poetry through different lenses.
"The Boxer" by Simon and Garfunkel
Listen to this in the middle of chapter two ("falling").
This song captures the personal struggle I write about, when we are confused about who we are, where we are, and why. This song also reminds me that I am not alone. We're all on this journey of attempting to believe in ourselves. I tried to put the wisdom I hear in this song into chapter two.
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Listen to this at the end of chapter two.
Most of the songs I listened to while compiling the sun and her flowers
are classics. They made me feel connected to something greater than myself, which helped me overcome the trials and tribulations of completing a book. This particular song gave me strength to overcome the personal struggles I discuss in chapter two.
"Akhiyan Ch Tu Vasda" by Surinder Kaur
Listen to this at the end of chapter three ("rooting").
I’d like to think that this song is the audio version of what chapter one would sound like if it was music. It’s about deep longing for a lover. When writing about such longing in "wilting," I found myself channeling the emotions Surinder Kaur sings about. This is a singer I grew up listening to. My dad once told me her music is the only thing that has ever made him cry (and it’s true! I’ve never seen the man shed a tear otherwise). Listening to Punjabi music also inspired me to write about the world my parents grew up in. There are poems in chapters three and five, where I talk about my ancestors and past generations, that are inspired by Punjabi music.
"We All Try" by Frank Ocean
Listen to this before reading chapter four ("rising").
When Frank sings, “I don’t believe my hands are cleanly. Can’t believe that you let me touch your heart," I always feel my heart shake. What a beautiful lyric. How often are we honest with the people in our lives? The shake of the heart that I experience when listening to that line is the shake of the heart I want to experience when completing a poem. I want readers to experience that same feeling when reading certain poems in the sun and her flowers
"Water" by Ra Ra Riot
Listen to this song when the book gets too heavy, and you need a break to remind yourself that it ain't all so bad. Preferably, dance around your room while listening to it.
This was my wind-down song. I would listen to this song when the poetry got too emotional, and I found myself feeling down and had to pick my spirits up. It provides a great break from the heavier music. I’d play it and dance around my living room.
"Man on Fire" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Listen to this song before reading chapter five ("blooming").
Sometimes, when writing the empowering pieces you find in chapter five, I needed a little pick-me-up. How the heck can I write these pieces when the world around me is a mess,
I thought. Is what I'm writing a lie? Is the world truly a terrible place? How can I talk about good triumphing when there seems to be no good around us?
This song pulled me out of that negativity. It allowed me to collect myself and regain the confidence to write the chapter. Regardless of all the things that we are digesting through media, I wanted to let readers know that, yes, things aren’t perfect, but they aren’t bad and they can get better. This song captures that.
"Wood" by Rostam
Listen to this after reading chapter five.
I describe chapter five as a dance around the campfire; it is us coming together. And in order to write that, I had to listen to something that was of the same essence. So I’d listen to "Wood" to lighten the mood and get my mind around the spirits of togetherness and oneness. The music in "Wood" sounds like a dance and lifts my spirits. I want readers to feel equally uplifted.
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is a #1 New York Times
bestselling author and illustrator of two collections of poetry. She started drawing at the age of five when her mother handed her a paintbrush and said, "Draw your heart out." Rupi views her life as an exploration of that artistic journey. After completing her degree in Rhetoric Studies, she published her first collection of poems, Milk and Honey
(2014). The internationally acclaimed collection sold well over a million copies, gracing the New York Times
bestseller list every week for over a year. It has since been translated into over 30 languages. Her long-awaited second collection,The Sun and Her Flowers
, was published in 2017. Through this collection, she continues to explore a variety of themes ranging from love, loss, trauma, healing, femininity, migration, and revolution. Rupi has performed her poetry across the world. Her photography and art direction are warmly embraced, and she hopes to continue this expression for years to come.