(Trigger warning: this review will mention rape several times, though not in any graphic or descriptive way.)
This is my annual foray into poetry thanks to my local library’s adult summer reading bingo challenge. Poetry is not at all my bag. I read one book a year and that’s it. As a friend of mine is fond of saying: I’m not trying to yuk anyone’s yum. But my joy as a reader comes from diving into a good story that will leave me challenged and, many times, guessing as to how it will unfold. Poetry doesn’t do that. If I’m listening to words rhyme, I’d rather it just be music.
Anyway, to satisfy my local library’s rules, I scanned the poetry aisle and came across Milk and Honey. I was familiar with the cover but so many times, I had assumed it was just a regular work of fiction as opposed to poetry. So I grabbed it and read it over the course of several days.
If I was a poetry fan, this is the kind I would like: minimalist with crisp prose. I don’t like poems that are drawn out or pretentious, nor do I like ones that try to impress me with wordplay. I like to feel connected to the poet in order to absorb what they are saying. Rupi Kaur makes that easy.
Also, I volunteer for a group that disrupts rape culture through art and advocacy. Seeing Kaur speak her truth as a survivor through her poems was both familiar and special (and also quite sad). Every survivor lives their story differently and I, for one, am grateful that Rupi Kaur is comfortable enough to put her pain out there because the way she turns it into art is quite moving. Her poems hit me the way so many artistic interpretations of survivor’s stories have had an impact on my person.
I don’t know who to recommend it to because I don’t know what you are looking for in poetry. I know Rupi Kaur has received a lot of criticism for not writing things in verse or using “tricks” such as it were. I don’t know anything about that. I know I found this book to be beautiful and moving and I’m grateful I was encouraged to read it.