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…Is a collection of poems, which is a very good thing. And you might want to read it.
“milk and honey” by Rupi Kaur is a project she first self-published before getting a deal with a publisher. Now it’s a New York Times bestseller with thousands of people around the world being touched by it. The poems are clear and with absolutely no pretense whatsoever, which means they are highly accessible. Usually, when books produce a high buzz, it’s exactly because of that: they are easy to understand. One of the reason to be exited that this particular one is gaining so much momentum is because while the greatest prose shows us paths for connection with others, poetry shows us paths for connecting with ourselves – which is, of course, highly necessary.
“milk and honey” is largely about loving – others and yourself. Rupi Kaur is a body-positive feminist not afraid to talk about taboo topics, which is another good side of it all. It is also about healing, trauma, and loss; things we need to give more space to in literature. There are some parts on physical and emotional abuse that strike a chord in a lot of people’s hearts. This book is highly relatable if you’ve ever had your heart broken, and as any other book of poems, it gives us space to get in touch with our emotions rather than listen to our minds.
Together with the illustrations Kaur made herself, it’s a volume of simple beauty. If you’re wondering why the title is in all lowercase, that’s because the author (who lives in Canada) is of Punjabi descent, which when written is laid down without any capitals. Hence the title in all lowercase. Speaking of it, the story of how it came to be starts with a poem of hers about the 1984 genocide of Sikhs in India. In it, there was a line about the women who lived through those times; “I write that they come out of that terror as smooth as milk and as thick as honey”, she says.
Of course, as other things that are so largely popular, this one has been criticized for being swallow or not especially original or well-written. Even if it’s not your cup of tea, having such a large poetry title is great news; not only because of the important topics in it, but also because it gives hope to lots of poets who are told time and again that no one reads poetry any more. What a way to prove them wrong.