*Trigger Warning: This book explores themes of rape, violence and abuse*
‘Milk and Honey’ by Rupi Kaur was the poetry collection everyone on the internet was talking about towards the end of last year but, as is usually the case, I was pretty late to this party.
This collection was so popular online it brought poetry to the attention of so many people who might normally shy away from the genre and as a poetry fan, I have to recognise the significance of that. However, on the whole, I thought the praise ‘Milk and Honey received was exaggerated to an extent.
It’s important to note, at this point that poetry, like all art forms, is completely subjective. What one person sees as mediocre at best another may consider to be life changing. With that in mind, I have to say Rupi Kaur’s collection was just not my cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong, her way with words is undeniable and several of her poems left me lost for words, such as:
“you tell me to quiet down cause
my opinions make me less beautiful
but i was not made with a fire in my belly
so i could be put out
i was not made with a lightness on my tongue
so i could be easy to swallow
i was made heavy
half blade and half silk
difficult to forget and not easy
for the mind to follow”
Many of her poems, to me, did not feel like poems at all. Rather they were merely simple sentences that had been separated by line breaks. Of course, poetry is subjective but that to me did not feel like poetry. Many poems have line breaks in the middle of a sentence or phrase but they are often used to bring deeper meaning to the poem whereas Rupi Kaur seemed to be using them at random points in her poems. Or maybe she did and I’m just not very good at poetry! One review I read described it as “Tumblr poetry” which I feel is very fitting, especially as Rupi Kaur garnered a lot of online attention for her poetry before the collection was published.
Despite being somewhat disappointed by this collection I have to commend Rupi Kaur. She self-published ‘Milk and Honey’ in 2014 and has since sold half a million copies worldwide. This collection brought poetry to the forefront of people’s minds, people who may never have wanted to read poetry before now. She also explores themes which are often absent from poetry such as violence, abuse and the less glamorous side of femininity. These topics are very hard to find in poetry and people are often discouraged from talking about them so if this collection helps somebody who is struggling with these issues, that can only be a good thing.
Have you read ‘Milk and Honey’? Let me know what you thought of it!