I’ve heard people say Milk and Honey is really overhyped and all I have to say to those people is, mate, have you even read it? It’s true, often books, movies and bands can be really hyped and then you end up disappointed when you eventually explore it yourself. It happens. But that is so not the case here. Since buying this book of poetry last year I have read it in its entirety several times, often in one sitting. It’s just addictive. It’s one of those works of literature which is just so damn good you wish you’d written it yourself.
Except I couldn’t have because not all these poems align with my life experience. That being said, what I love about this collection is that Kaur manages to break your heart over and over again, both through your own experiences and through empathy for others. But it’s not all doom and gloom. A big part of the collection being spilt into four sections is that it works through the emotions, the feelings and the tragedies in life. Simply, the hurting, the loving, the breaking, the healing. But then you move past it. History. Your history. You don’t let it define you. You live in spite of it. And you celebrate life instead. Whilst Milk and Honey is deeply moving and tragic, I find liberation and love far outweigh the sorrow.
If ever you find yourself in a reading slump this is all you will need. It will consume you and it will make you fall in love with words again. I’ve tried to work out my favourite poem since reading this collection and I’ve come to the conclusion that that is impossible. I can narrow it to possibly a top twenty. At a push. There are just so many important themes within the pages that I dare any reader not to find solace or salvation in one of them. In ways they can’t be compared to each other.
Milk and Honey is about self-love, friendship, violence, abuse, race, strength, healing, self-empowerment, growth, authenticity and woman power. It’s badass and it’s honest.
Even if you ‘hate’ poetry or at least find it disengaging I implore you to try this; it will change your perspective on poetry forever. It’s not all Shakespeare and his three and four hundred year old white male mates. Poetry is for everybody. It’s a release and it’s a cleanse, it makes you feel part of something when you’re completely lonely. It shows you that what you’re feeling is never weird and it deserves to be expressed. So give it a chance.
On the other hand, for people who say the poems are too simple, I think you’ve missed the point. They are unapologetically blunt and real. They don’t hide behind frills because the big, bad world certainly doesn’t when it bulldozers through your life. These poems are about difficult topics but it’s imperative that the stories are told. No sugar coating. We need to feel each others pain and tell each other it will be okay. This collection is a cry for solidarity.
And it is a story of hope.
I just can’t recommend it enough and I can’t wait for Rupi’s next work.
Sirens – Woodlock