Review: Milk and Honey

Milk and HoneyRuper Kaur has caused a whole lot of buzz in the past few years. Though I’ve read her poems on social media and seen them shared countless times, I only got around to reading Milk And Honey this summer after receiving it as a gift.

Summary

Milk and Honey is a collection of poems on abuse, loss, love, and life. Divided into four sections, Kaur explores different kinds of pain and heartache while also sharing the sweetness of living.

Let’s get into it…

I can see why so many people enjoy Rupi Kaur’s poetry. The subjects are often easy to relate to—heartache is both specific and universal. Kaur’s writing is also pretty accessible. It avoids heavy use of figurative language in favour of more straightforward word use. The short length of many of the poems makes them easy to memorize and to hold in the mind. This gives them a mantra-like quality, which is comforting in some cases and perhaps a bit fortune-cookie-like in others.

While I find a lot of poetry has the opposite problem, Kaur’s poetry doesn’t provide much mystery for me to unwrap. So, for me, some of the poems in this collection fall a bit flat.

However, you could argue that there is power in being straightforward, just as there is in addressing one’s demons head-on. And that is what Kaur does in many of her poems. She addresses sexism, racism, loss, and heartache directly, often writing to a recipient or subject using the direct address “you.”

Kaur seems to have become a rather divisive figure among poetry circles. There are those who say her work is derivative or just bad, yet she’s sold millions of copies, dominated bestseller lists, and performed for giant crowds. I can’t say I have strong feelings either way. I found my enjoyment of her writing depends on the mood I read in. Sometimes bite-sized, straightforward poems are exactly what I need. Other times I want something that requires a bit more chewing.

In any case, I believe that, as with most literature,  anything that gets people reading is good. And I can definitely see Milk and Honey as a good introduction to poetry for both its accessible style and subject matter. In a world where much of the mainstream continually celebrates and teaches the poetry of dead white men from ages ago, the voice of a millennial woman of colour should be a welcome alternative.

Final thoughts: If you’re up for some easy to read poetry, or trying to get into poetry, Milk and Honey might be a good place to start.

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