REVIEW: Rapi Kaur’s ‘milk and honey’

does creating simple
statements with
no
punctuation and
random

line breaks

make it poetry?

– this style really annoyed me

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I have seen many social media posts about milk and honey on my feed over the past few months. It seemed like every other Instagram post was a snapshot of the book with bloggers galore flat-laying it with coffee and fluffy socks. Eventually I caved in and bought the damn thing.

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The book is simply a collection of poetry and illustrations. Seemed right up my street. The book is split into four chapters, each serving a different purpose. With themes of violence, abuse, love, lust, loss, and femininity; I was sure it was going to pack a punch. Unfortunately, I was severely underwhelmed. Especially considering the hype surrounding both the poet and her work.

At first the poetry seemed rather simple with beautiful fine-line illustrations to accompany them. Nice enough. But this becomes tedious quickly. Some ‘poems’ are solely basic sentences with random line breaks, no punctuation, and lower case ‘i’s scattered throughout. They aren’t lyrical whatsoever and some just read as a statement or a command. Which is fine – I guess. However, these statements are over-used and clichéd feminist remarks, they lack the substance and much needed ingenuity. Some poems felt like fillers to the piece of art below it. The illustrations are quite possibly the best thing about the collection.

“you must
want to spend
the rest of your life
with yourself
first”

Don’t get me wrong – disjointed and muddled syntax has a rightful place in poetry. Take American underground poet, Charles Bukowski, for example.  The main difference being that Bukowski’s choice of language had a carefully thought-out purpose.

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There is a place for this type of ‘poetry’ though. It’s sensationalist internet poetry created from the depths of social media, maybe it should stay there. I feel as though this new millennial net poetry does not translate well onto a page.

“i am either in love
or in lust with
the writing
or both”

It was almost too ‘tumblr’ for me. I feel as though my 19-year-old self would have really loved this collection on the day of my first break-up. I recall creating a poetry collection for a module at university shortly afterwards, it had very similar sentiments and style- perhaps that’s why I disliked it so much. On the other hand, if it gets a younger audience into poetry outside of the classroom then sure, the collection has a bigger impact. But for heaven’s sake pick up the works of Lowell, Plath and Sexton if Confessionalism is your thing.

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What I can say is that the poet/artist has put her true emotions and experiences into the book. I do not want to belittle the subject content because it is relevant. The more we break the taboos of femininity and the female sexual experience, the better.

Kaur’s collection is so personal and intimate I almost feel guilty for criticising it, but the reading of it left much to be desired.

2/5 stars.

[Disclaimer: Any quotes/pictures are copyright of Rupi Kaur. I do not own the rights to any used for this post. Pictures were taken by iPhone 5S of Rupi Kaur’s milk and honey]. 

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