Discussing topics such as love, trauma and abuse, “Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur has become an increasingly popular book over the last two years and has earned the title of a #1 New York Times Bestseller.
The Tumblr-esque style of Kaur’s writing appeals primarily to young adults, who find it relatable to both happiness and pain in their lives. While “Milk and Honey” does discuss important issues, aspects of it feel lazy and sloppy.
The book is separated into four chapters, which discuss different types of pain: Hurting, Loving, Breaking and Healing. This organization takes the reader through the process of different relationships. It ultimately aims to find out how to cope with the hurt in your life and focus on yourself. This is powerful because even though no characters are mentioned and it’s not written like a typical novel, a storyline can be imagined by the reader.
While the separation of chapters in this book is effective, most of the poems in it are extremely short and don’t give off significant meaning. Many of the poems are merely sentences. Not that a sentence can’t be considered poetry, but when it occurs through a lot of the book, it begins to appear lazy.
Kaur writes poems such as, “I was a museum full of art, but you had your eyes shut.” This poem is superficial and doesn’t seem to have much thought or intention behind it. It doesn’t stick with me or make me think because I can quickly read it and move on. None of these shorter poems really struck me with much interest.
The shortness of them feels like an easy way out of writing a poem. They don’t deepen the meaning or further explain Kaur’s feeling behind her words. Her longer poems seemed more thought out and meaningful, and they do a better job of taking on bigger issues.
The longer poems are enriching and give a better insight into what Kaur is feeling. This makes it easier for the reader to imagine themselves in her shoes, because there is more to work with. The amount of detail gives us a glimpse into Kaur’s life and gives more voice than others.
Kaur also expresses clearer emotion regarding sexual abuse in these poems, often making them detailed and blunt. While this can be uncomfortable to read, that is what makes it powerful. Kaur does an excellent job bringing attention to issues like sexual abuse by fearlessly describing her experiences through her poetry.
Overall, while Kaur is bold in calling attention to pressing issues such as sexual assault and abuse, while also bringing out her feelings and experiences with love and heartbreak, the poetry could have been better presented. Too often in this book were the poems easy to glance over, understand and forget about.
I think Kaur is an excellent writer--many of the poems in this book are strong and provide an empowering message. However, I don’t think “Milk and Honey” shows Kaur’s full effort or potential in writing.
The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch.