Let me start by stating that my exposure to poetry is very limited. I have, to my knowledge, read only one or two full collections of poems, so take this entire review with a grain of salt.
Home Body by Rupi Kaur is broken down into four parts: mind, heart, rest, and awake. In mind Kaur writes of her depression, anxiety, and her struggles with worth and acceptance. In heart, Kaur write of love: its loss, its elusion, and its impact. In rest, Kaur write of just that. She writes about learning to rest and relax in a capitalist society that values constant productivity and movement. And in the final section awake, it seems to me that Kaur throws a hodgepodge of poems together with a tiny thread of community tying them all together.
All and all, this collection felt rushed. Just when Kaur’s poems were finding a cadence leading up to something (a revelation, a truth, a climax, anything), Kaur switches gears to another topic. The entire collection left me feeling unsatisfied. Further, the transitions through out book felt largely unnecessary. At best they simply delayed getting to the next poem without adding any value, and at worst they were jarring and entirely off-putting.
That being said, there some highlights. “i’m putting the hate down”, the final poem of mind is a beautiful reminder that our energy is limited and we shouldn’t waste it on negativity regarding the body that keeps us alive. Kaur doesn’t go so far as to push toxic positivity around loving and celebrating your body if that’s not where you are but rather very simply reminds us that our body is our home. Every single millenial out there will identify with “productivity anxiety”. In this poem Kaur perfectly captures what capitalism has done to our sense of self-worth and value; the franticly long lines of the poem at the beginning melt into languid, short, patient lines by the end when Kaur unlearns what the veneer of productivity has taught her. Harkening back to “i’m putting the hate down”, “balance” reminds the reader that happiness doesn’t mean that one must be positive all of the time. “balance” is an invitation to sit with one’s natural, negative feelings as a way to be truly happy.