Sunday, 15 April 2018

Book Review: Milk and Honey

Generally, I’m not a poetry fan; however with this collection of poems I decided to give into the hype and give this book a try. In all honesty, this book is the tumblr and instagram hipster prop of dreams so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. As a woman, I am a feminist. One of things I loved about this collection of poems is it’s femininity, realism and honesty. Using not only words but visual illustrations to further elaborate across many pages, the collected words really drew me into the soul of Rupi Kaur. Within the poems there was a lot of negative imagery surrounding themes of abuse, violence, sexuality and loss. As much as I devoured all of the poems, I wouldn’t say they were anything out of this world but I loved how relatable each of the parts were for me. Divided into four parts, ‘The Hurting’, ‘The Loving’, ‘The Breaking’ and ‘The Healing’ which was a self explanatory cycle of poetry imitating the cycle of life and emotions. Each part explored a variation of the themes I’ve already mentioned, although having the collected poems split into smaller chapters worked really well - it made it much easier to understand what topics were being covered in what chapter. Kaur takes the reader on a journey of her life in this collection, which makes you feel so connected to each and every poem, knowing that someone else has loved this.

I do feel like this collection of poems lived up to the hype for me; I’d say that this is likely because I began to read the poems with minimal expectations as I’m not overly familiar with poetry (or more specifically, reading poetry for my own enjoyment). I admired the honesty that seeped through each of the poems in all of the chapters, although the poems under ‘The Hurting’ were unsurprisingly the most difficult to read due to their harrowing nature; abuse of any kind is always hard to swallow and some of the depictions of sexual abuse in particular although in beautiful prose were difficult to read. Whether it is a subject that you’re personally familiar with or not, what the poems do is encourage you to think, to wonder and understand the kinds of battlegrounds that bodies can be for some people. For as much as bodies shouldn’t be a battleground, but a instead a celebration, there are situations and circumstances why some have issues with their bodies. Poetry is a subjective form of art and literature, in all honesty I can understand why this collection of poems has been so widely loved and so widely criticised; it’s not for everyone. It is a literal and visual journey of some of the best and worst moments of a persons life, which can be hard to contemplate. It’s easy to read words without meaning, but difficult to read with feeling. However, it is incredible that Rupi Kaur is so fearless within her chosen art form; each word is so carefully chosen, yet somehow extremely personal whilst remaining impersonal. 

The four parts give an understanding to the idea of survival; that even after a variety of bad times, there are always good times ready to experience. The splitting of various life experiences into multiple poems and ultimately four distinct parts that represent feelings worked well but also added another layer of sincerity to her writing. Although there were elements of chaos within the text, it was organised chaos; loose ends were neatly tied up and each poem (long or short) provided a specific meaning that added to the overall feel to the collection as well as carefully fitting into the themes laid out throughout the text. The poetry varied in length from a few words, to multiple pages, making each poem work as a stand-alone piece or part of the overall collection. Part four, or the ‘The Healing’, was arguably the most interesting to read, as everyone heals differently so it was definitely her perspective, her own process. Each of the parts tells it’s own story, using a variety of poetic techniques to do so; one of the reasons why I liked this collection of poems was the range of feelings seeping through the pages. We see feelings of hope, hate, love, shame and more. Feelings are such an inexplicable part of life, as much as some of the content was uncomfortable to imagine, it was easy to empathise, to invest yourself in Kaur’s storytelling, the narrative of her life.

Overall, I loved this. Not because of the hype surrounding it, or the hipster/tumblr/instagram youths who so often use various lines or stanzas alongside imagery to represent their own feelings. I’m aware that is a total stereotype, but honestly that is where I’ve seen most of the interest surrounding this book within the online world. This collection of poems felt like more than just a book as it is more creative than that; fully written and illustrated by Rupi Kaur, I loved how some of the poems were so subtly phrased, with carefully hidden meanings within the words openly declaring their meaning via some fairly graphic illustrations of sexual abuse, of pleasure, of the body, the world and more. Each emotion, each poem and each illustration conveys just how brave Kaur is; unafraid of the truth, never hiding from the pain of life, or hiding from the experiences life grants each individual. As I’ve said previously, I’m generally not a poetry lover, although that’s likely due to being forced to study only certain poetry, not poetry of my own choosing in the past. I would recommend reading this book, not to see if it lives up to the hype, but to change up your reading habits; try something new and indulge in another’s journey of life through lines, stanzas and illustrations. This is a collection of poems that I will not forget, each poem hit me with a different emotion, thought and even unintentional relatability. There is something for everyone in this collection, but I admit that it’s definitely a book that not everyone will enjoy, although for me it was easily a 5 star read.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Back To Top
Designed By Hello Manhattan