milk and honey is Rupi Kaur’s first published collection of poetry and prose. Focusing on survival, it is based on the raw and gritty experiences of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. Split into four chapters, each one serves its own purpose, dealing with these specific subjects in its own way. What this does is take you on a journey. Starting at ‘the hurting’, you move through ‘the loving’ and ‘the breaking’ and end with ‘the healing’. Along the way you learn acceptance, understanding, and what it means to have control of yourself.
So where exactly do I begin in explaining how I feel about this collection of poetry?
First off, I might as well start by saying that I don’t personally call this poetry. For me poetry in general is descriptive, it is filled with subtle undertones that mean something different for each reader, it has a form that still pertains to a specific style even if it is non-conformist and irregular, there is a general rhythm and flow of each line and verse…. I could go on. Suffice to say that this collection is nothing like that and I don’t know if it is a style I could get used to. What I deem it to be is an ongoing stream of unedited, thoughtful consciousness that is split up into chunks of various sizes. Most people would probably say that describes the foundation of poetry composition but more often than not, it needs to be reworked for it to pack the intentional punch and desire. Poetry has always been a labour of love and whilst you can feel the Kaur’s intent to share these feelings in a modern way, it doesn’t work well.
The main reason for me is down to the shortage and almost lack of proper punctuation. Poetry needs punctuation to flow and tell you when to break at the right moment, and without it some of these poems are difficult to read.
Every poem written in lowercase is another interesting choice and whilst it threw me off, it was a clever stylistic choice. She’s exploring these adult themes with undertones of childhood innocence and beauty to further express the notion that there is sweetness in those bitter life moments, and it is a great use of juxtaposition and irony. However, it doesn’t change my initial response to the subjects Kaur felt the need to focus on.
What some see as empowering messages of strength, femininity, and self control, I see as cliché after cliché that is regurgitated and dressed up with different words each time. Some of the latter poems I do relate to and I can imagine as being inspirational, but most of those that express femininity are one sided. And more often than not, I was taken aback with its bluntness and vivid approach. To some extent it was almost too uncomfortable to read at times and I was a little repulsed.
Nonetheless, this is reality in its rawest form. These issues are experienced day to day and Rupi Kaur was not afraid to tackle that.
Have you read milk and honey? What do you think?
Thanks for reading and have a brazzle dazzle day!