I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of this elegant, black book of poetry all of instagram. Milk and Honey is a poetry collection written by Rupi Kaur, split into four parts, which deals with themes of trauma, love, healing and femininity. This book has both been praised and called pretentious. So, although I will be talking about appraisal of the book, I want to discuss the disagreements around it too.
Milk and Honey online
I’d seen a few of the poems online. Rupi Kaur began by posting her work online, before eventually self-publishing Milk and Honey. The simple poems and artwork are of a short form that is easy to snap and share, which adds to the appeal. It’s the type of “tumblr poetry” that is often eye-rolled at as someone just writing sentences and hitting the enter key at random places.
But, I disagree. Poetry, literature, and art should be accessible to people. What’s so bad about having poems that is simple to read, easy to understand, but still captures emotions and images so well? I’d even argue that this is a new form of poetry – that poetry can evolve beyond sonnets and rhyming couplets. Not to mention, if Rupi Kaur was a white man instead of a brown woman, you’d find far less people calling her poetry pretentious and far more people heralding her as a genius for her short poems and new style.
Reading Milk and Honey
I read Milk and Honey in one sitting, which I think, is possibly one of the best ways to read it. The book is structured so that, as a whole, it tells the story of a young woman’s journey. It is raw and real, and flows through emotions in a way that’s powerful. Because the poems are short, they seem random and out-of-place when viewed in isolation but form a complete picture when collected together. That, I think, is the mistake many of the “tumblr poetry” critics fall short of understanding. The illustrations are beautiful and add to the experience.
The last section was my favourite. It’s so rare to find mainstream discussions of feminism from the point of view of a brown woman. Seeing picture of Rupi Kaur and realising she looks like me, and finding her thoughts on healing and empowerment was incredible. Reading about her embracing her heritage and brown skin made it far more accessible.
I would recommend Milk and Honey to young, brown women, and to everyone who would like to start reading poetry. It can be purchased from The Book Depository *here.
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Title: Milk and Honey
Author: Rupi Kaur
My rating: 9/10
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