Poetry Review: Milk and Honey

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Credit: Anne Stoop

While I devour novels like chocolate-covered profiteroles, poetry has always been a piece of cake I did not dare to touch. Poetry felt daunting, too complicated and overly snobbish.

It wasn’t until I stumbled onto snippets of Rupi Kaur’s work that I learned that I had been wrong all along. ‘Milk and Honey’ is a collection of her work and embodies the journey of surviving through poetry. The book is divided into four chapters, which each serve their own specific purpose of dealing with different pains and heartaches.

It all starts with The hurting, a confronting chapter which hints at an absent father, sexual abuse and an alcoholic parent. These 30 pages describe an amount of pain and hurting in the fewest possible words, resulting in immensely powerful poetry, sometimes only consisting of two lines.

A number of poems throughout the book are accompanied by minimalist illustrations, amplifying the simplistic but raw character of Kaur’s poetry.

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Credit: Anne Stoop

The loving is a chapter that concentrates on the life after all the hurt. The focus lies on the desire and overwhelming feelings that result from a first love. Both the illustrations and poetry are sensual and celebrate feminine strength.

Kaur represents women in an empowering and inspirational way. She does not shy away from raw and blunt descriptions; dismantling the stereotypical delicacy so frequently used when female sexuality is described.

The breaking describes the mess after love has ended. Both the illustrations and poems magically capture the feelings of hurt, anger and cynicism that naturally seems to occur after a heart is left in pieces.

While certain poems sound like supplications, others hum declarations of war. However, throughout the chapter there is an underlying tone of optimism and strength, guiding us to the final chapter.

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Credit: Anne Stoop

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Credit: Anne Stoop

‘Milk and Honey’ ends on a positive note; The healing is filled with positivity, strength and understanding. While the focus lies on self-love and independence, Kaur repeatedly calls upon her ‘sisters’. She fights the idea of female rivalry and presses on sisterhood and unity.

These final 60 pages of ‘Milk and Honey’ bestow readers with a best friend, someone who knows which words to say and when. It is the intimate character of the poems that gives ‘Milk and Honey’ its strength.

The only possible critique ‘Milk and Honey’ could receive is that it is focused on a rather limited readership. The poems are a reflection of Kaur herself, a young woman in her early twenties who grew up in a Western country. Whether this book will be universal to any gender or age is a question that can be raised, however, it will not stop me from recommending Milk and Honey enough.

Milk and Honey is available for £6.99 at Amazon.com

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