Monday, June 26, 2017

Milk and Honey

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur (2014)

This collection of poetry touches on themes of love, loss, abuse, and survival. It's divided into four sections, "the hurting," "the loving," "the breaking," and "the healing." Most of the poems are quite short - some only three or four lines - and they are accompanied by simple, but expressive, line drawings.

These verses are simple in that you don't need to puzzle over every line to try and figure out what the poet is getting it, and I appreciated that. At times this meant that I breezed through without thinking about them much at all since they're so obvious in meaning, but at other times I dwelled on a poem or its accompanying drawing. Many of these poems could easily be the sort of anguished poetry you write in high school and are later completely embarrassed by (not that I'd know, of course) but it never quite crosses that line. Perhaps the level of maturity and insight is enough to take it out of the realm of cliche while remaining in a spot that is very recognizable to other humans.

I have a hard time writing about poetry, so I'll share a couple of the short poems here for you to get a taste.

One of my favorite illustrations
i know i
should crumble
for better reasons
but have you seen
that boy he brings
the sun to its
knees every night

and this one:

for you to see beauty here
does not mean
there is beauty in me
it means there is beauty rooted
so deep within you
you can't help but
see it everywhere

Published on Createspace in 2014, the volume is currently experiencing a surge in popularity, though I'm not sure why this has happened after so much time. I heard about it from a coworker who shared a few snippets online, and it looked like the sort of poetry I could get into, or at least understand. It's not for everyone though, that's for sure. The Goodreads reviews are all over the place, and some reviewers hate this collection with a vehemence that is a bit surprising. Some say it's not even poetry because the form is so loose, which is a very odd criticism to me. I mean, if poetry can't be loose and creative, what can? I think poetry is the sort of thing that is very individual and personal; a particular poem or style of poetry either speaks to you or it doesn't.

For me, the experience of reading this book was a bit uneven. I was quite drawn to some of the poems; others, not so much. And that's fine. I really enjoyed the drawings though, and in some cases, the particular combination of verse and illustration. I'm glad that I picked it up.

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