I am much more familiar with art as a visual media rather than a written one, but it seems like you encounter quite a bit of the same critique. There are some in the art world who deride accessible art, especially Instagram-friendly art, as somehow less than “real” art. That because the masses can appreciate it, it doesn’t carry the caliber that a professional would understand. It’s a criticism I don’t much care for – just because it’s pretty doesn’t mean it’s bad (and inversely, just because it’s weird af doesn’t mean it’s GOOD) (and also Jeff Koons is a g-d hack)
So enter Rupi Kaur’s milk and honey, “Instapoetry” for a new age. I don’t feel entirely qualified to be remarking on it, poetry puts me extremely far outside my comfort zone and I’m a skosh older than what appears to be her target demo. I liked most of the poems I read. Hell, I even flagged two to bookmark and remember. I don’t know what qualifies as “good” poetry. I know this is the first book I’ve read this year where in addition to reading it, I went and googled the author and read as many words about her as were in the book itself (to be fair, it’s a pretty short book) and you know what? If it gets people reading outside their comfort zone, I’m good with it.
There is a fair amount of “criticism” of her work out there that’s more mockery than genuine critique and it falls into an unfortunately predictable pattern – her fans are teenage girls and teenage girls are silly and mindless therefore her work is silly and mindless. This is bullshit. But we’re Pajiba fans, we know that.
There is also some genuine criticism that needs to be heard. Kaur puts her work forward explicitly as that of a woman of color and she has excelled in a field overwhelmed by white men. Race, though, is rarely mentioned in her work – her poems are much more about love and loss and heartbreak and in a way that is completely divorced from race. But white dudes have spent centuries writing about general topics in general ways, so she gets to too. I don’t know. I’m bad at this.
I liked it. I’m glad I read it. Maybe her style is a little derivative but my god she’s 25, she’s got time. I’m also glad I have book club tonight where I can discuss it further face to face with people. Poetry still isn’t my bag, but I’ve screenshotted a few of these from my kindle.