Milk and Honey (Amazon Affiliate Link)
Author : Rupi Kaur
Published By : Andrews McMeel
Year Published : 2014
Genre / Tags : Poetry
Formats : Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
# of Pages : 204 pages (Paperback)
Milk and honey’ is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. About the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose. Deals with a different pain. Heals a different heartache. ‘milk and honey’ takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.
First, a most important disclosure- I’m not a poetry reader. In fact, I don’t get poetry by-and-large and feel a sort of inner cringe sometimes when listening to spoken poetry or reading some pieces in isolation. There may be great depth there but I’m more moved by poetic writing styles rather than straight poetry.
So why even try Milk and Honey?
This is known to be a very approachable poetry collection, with easily understood subject matter. The style seems polarizing. Though the reviews seem prevailing positive. There are many who hate this book. There are some amusing diatribes from people critical of the author’s highly simple approach (many of these poems are basically haikus, many of the pages containing a single haiku on a vast and otherwise empty page- admittedly a lazy-looking approach I guess) but I’ve read/watched some very encouraging reviews from people who connected with the author’s subject matter.
It’s really a matter of how much you can relate to the subjects tackled and openness to the style. The trigger for my reading this title was reading a few poems from the sequel, The Sun And Her Flowers, and finding that I can relate to this person’s perspective and background to some marked extent. Milk and Honey seemed like the logical first step, this being her first collection of poems. Still, it was easy to expect the worst.
Pleasantly surprised by how many of the poems were touching. But there were definitely some that fell flat, if not clunking on a trip all the way down.
This book is split into four distinct sections, each embodying a different phase in the author’s life.
**Note – this section will include some revealing information about the content of these chapters.
The first section is called The Hurting and it has some trigger-warning worthy material. It deals with sexual abuse and trauma in a hard-hitting way. Also covers Kaur’s relationship with her mother and father. While not focused solely on childhood per se, I ended up having a pretty full sense of her childhood experiences by section’s end.
The second section is called The Loving. It’s about falling in love and having a serious relationship for the first time. The passages here are full of passion and some are explicit in nature. This section is warm but intense. There isn’t really a consistent transition from the harrowing events of Section 1 to the starry-eyed sexually charged moments of the Section 2. I did feel surprised yet happy for the author’s happiness in this section.
The third section is called The Breaking. Kaur expresses her feelings at every juncture during and after the breakup. Lots of vivid phrases in this section, and not solely focused on depressing aspects despite the title.
The fourth section is called The Healing. Simultaneously the best section and the one that could have been better given all that occurred before. It is in this section where I had a fuller understanding of why some people really love this book, and the good vibes it can leave you with. Encouraging the reader to always move forward.
My overall feelings were all over the place. I think this collection is a force of good and I felt good or more empowered after reading it, though many bits and pieces didn’t have the effect they were meant to or just felt awkward. The final section has many great passages but also seems to bang the reader over the head with “love yourself, don’t forget to love yourself, take care of yourself, don’t forget how important you are, etc etc.” and I did feel after a short while like it was a kind of cloying motivation and repetition.
Overall Rating – 7.5/10
Why You Should Try It – Overcoming trauma, falling in love, breaking up, loving yourself- if those themes seem up your alley Milk and Honey is centrally focused on them. The poems follow a simple, perhaps too simple format. But I do think there is something to be said of the vividness of Kaur’s youthful, spry point of view and voice. These are poems by a young woman, for young women. I do wonder how much of this book’s success may be wrapped up in its propensity to offer a clear voice of understanding to young women in a medium that often seems doggedly complex and involved.
Why You Might Not Like It – Some of the poems really didn’t work for me in ways that were awkward. The style is definitely not for everyone.
Thanks for reading my review of Milk and Honey! Have you read it, anything else by Rupi Kaur, or plan to? I will also soon be reviewing the second poetry collection she wrote. Do you have a favorite poet or a poetry collection to recommend? Thanks again for your time spent reading this, and also thanks in advance for all likes and comments. ~ Kitty