Poetry Review | Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur

I’ve seen Rupi Kaur’s work floating around the bookosphere for a while – I’ve been following her on Instagram for ages – and whilst I’ve read the poetry she posts on there, I’ve never actually sat down with her anthology in hand and read her work cover-to-cover. With the huge buzz surrounding her second volume, The Sun and Her Flowers, I decided now was the time to get a hold of Milk and Honey.

I was slightly hesitant about reading the poetry without pausing for breath – the nature of her poems, short and sweet, means that you can devour the pages without stopping. I worried that they would lose their impact, lose some of their uniqueness, if read en-masse. It didn’t stop me reading it in a couple of sittings over a few weeks – once you’ve started, it’s hard to stop.

I am a huge fan of poetry, and I’m delighted that poetry is becoming accessible and trendy through writers like Rupi, who lays bare her emotions in stark yet delicate words. She unflinchingly addresses topics like trauma, heartbreak, sexuality, femininity, self-worth and expression. Nothing she says really breaks new ground, but the way she expresses the simple truths about the way we live, love and heal is refreshingly open.

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It isn’t a perfect collection. There are times when the writing is over-wrought, or clichéd. Sometimes it reads a little too much like my 13-year old self’s diary. There is a sense of sticking too close to convention, of being too derivative. But I respect Rupi’s honesty, of exposing herself both creatively in terms of form and emotionally in terms of content. Her line illustrations are what make this collection for me, adding something necessary in terms of creative output. There are echoes in there of Ezra Pound, of ee cummings. I’m pleased and proud that this time, the voice belongs to a woman, who speaks to elements of 21st century womanhood many of us relate to.

If this collection can inspire a new generation to discover poetry, and inspire other marginalised voices to write and be heard, then to my mind that is nothing but a good thing.

What do you think of Rupi Kaur’s poetry? What are your thoughts on some of the controversies surrounding her work?

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3 thoughts on “Poetry Review | Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur

  1. Jazz says:

    There’s some very mixed feelings regarding Rupi Kaur’s work. When I did my review for Milk & Honey and its sequel, The Sun & Her Flowers, I saw a lot of comments on Goodreads saying things like “This isn’t real poetry!” and while I can see their point, it highlights the question of how exactly we define poetry.
    I like Rupi Kaur’s work, but very often I feel that while the topics she writes of are very emotive, there isn’t actually a lot of emotion in her writing if that makes sense? Poetry is a very personal thing, though, and I know she’s had a huge impact. Have you ever read The Princess Saves Herself In This One by Amanda Lovelace? That’s amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rose - Novels and Teacups says:

      I really liked your ‘The Sun and Her Flowers’ review and think you really hit the nail on the head with what you say about her poetry being emotive but without emotion. It lacks some of the impact that I would have expected. I also disagree with the naysayers who don’t think it’s ‘real poetry’ – regardless of who should claim to be able to ‘define’ what poetry is, famous and respected poets have been writing in this style long before Rupi came along.
      Thank you for the recommendation, the title rings a bell but I’ve not read any of Amanda Lovelace’s poetry – will be sure to check it out!

      Liked by 1 person

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