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.
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?