Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2015, 208 pages
Rupi Kaur’s collection of poems is truly a collection for women who don’t like poetry. And that is to say, the book is for everyone, but especially and even for women who don’t like poetry. The movement of poems throughout the book showcases a sort-of narrative that might be any woman’s narrative, making the unspoken spoken. Once you’ve read Milk and Honey, you know not only that you’ve joined a very special community, but that a community has been there all along, seemingly existing only in the mist and in-between. For this, alone, Kaur’s work should be lauded, but truly, there’s more (and don’t even get me started on that gorgeous cover — there’s a reason it’s all of Instagram).
Each poem in the collection features short lines with simple language, making the work as a whole accessible. Yet Kaur’s incredible skill with syntax and precise vocabulary lends the collection an impact I’ve rarely seen in one poem, let alone a full set. Some poems are also accompanied by a simple illustration. These are done by Kaur and complement the text of the book with a matching raw starkness.
With topics ranging from love to abuse to living in a patriarchal society to self-love, one of Kaur’s most powerful moves is that she shows that there is strength in pain. We often hear phrases like, “Real men cry,” which we take to mean that it takes strength to have and show emotion. That concept had never really become concrete for me until I read Milk and Honey, however. Kaur, or her narrator, unashamedly feels things and puts those feelings into words and poetry that reaches out and says, “I’ve been there, too. Let’s feel it together,” in a way.
This togetherness is stilted in one aspect, however. With Kaur’s nearly-clear narrative with a neat beginning, middle, and end, her story is somewhat less relatable that it might have been in a less structured design. The straight narrative reinforces the idea that this is of a particular character, who, regardless of their reality, is a single person. With the focus on the one, it is slightly more difficult to expand to the all.
Men who encounter Milk and Honey with an open mind will probably walk away from it with a much greater understanding of what, for many, many women, womanhood is. Kaur sums up the minute and ambiguous beautifully, accurately, succinctly, and exactly. What so many women for the duration of womanhood have been trying to say (and only a few have done successfully) is here in these few pages. Even if you “hate” or “don’t get” poetry, give Kaur’s work a try — you won’t regret it.
❤❤❤❤❤ out of ❤❤❤❤❤