I’ve read a lot of books lately that I’ve felt were only good in theory, and this was one of them.
Milk and Honey is a collection of poetry that guides its readers through four different stages of life: the hurting, the loving, the breaking, the healing.
I have to agree with the unpopular opinion in saying it was more than “underwhelming.”
I didn’t feel as moved as the rest of the world apparently was by it. It’s not that it was without its profound lines, it’s that that’s all they were. Lines. Statements. It read like a compilation novel of the best and worst sentences in literature. Or like direct quote from her blackout poetry journal.
There was no flow, no song, not melody, no harmony. It lulled on and on, making declarations that incited in me a reaction of “well, duh.”
Maybe it’s because this collection of poetry has an audience, and if I had to wager, I’d say that audience exists entirely between the ages of sixteen and twenty-two.
The whole thing just felt excutiatingly juvenile. It never brought me into the light. It’s for a group of people who are just now learning who they are when they aren’t apart of someone else. It makes sense. Rupi penned these works when she, too, was evolving. So for those of us who have silently moved past that realm of being where everything about your self is in question, I feel this isn’t our bread and butter. But for those who just left girlhood, this might be your bible.
That’s not a bad thing. Having an audience is of the most importance for any novel, book, collection of poetry to turn its ripple into a tsunami. Appealing to that audience in a way that others can’t is the next. I don’t know why this book became what it became, but it spoke to its readers, and they spoke to their friends, and they churned and churned until Milk and Honey was a New York Times bestseller.
I may not get it, but I can celebrate any writer’s accomplishments.
To me, I felt these “poems” would’ve had a larger impact hidden somewhere in a tale of loss and love. Reading them in their plainness really did nothing for me, as I found the majority of the places I highlighted tapped into her powerful imagery.
the first boy that kissed me
held my shoulders down
like the handlebars of
the first bicycle
he ever rode
my favorite thing about you is your smell
you smell like
a little more
human than the rest of us
we look less alive than we used to. less color in our cheeks.
sweet baby. this. is how we pull language out of one
another with the flick of our tongues. this is how we have
the conversation. this. is how we make up.
Poetry sings. Novels speak. These poems spoke, and only fell into song once or twice.
I was lead to believe that these were works of feminism. But I more felt like they were a testament to youth, to the struggle, to loving with your whole being. Hating with your whole being. Failing with your whole being. Triumphing with your whole being. I didn’t feel like this book stuck to one central theme long enough to be claimed solely by feminism. Sure, these poems were written by a woman who questioned the entire paradigm of the world. But I felt each page gripped a different reality, which isn’t so different than the majority of the books I’ve been reading lately. It felt more like tiny coming-of-age tales.
a daughter should
not have to
beg her father
for a relationship
your mother doesn’t wear that anger
this rage is the one thing
i get from my father
i can’t tell if my mother is
terrified or in love with
my father it all
looks the same
the type of lover who hears me
even when id o not speak
is the type of understanding
i am hopelessly
a lover and
a dreamer and
that will be the death of me
that is the one thing about selfish people. they
gamble entire beings.
you said. if it is meant to be. fate will bring us back
together. for a second i wonder if you are really
that naive. if you really believe fate works like that.
as if it lives in the sky staring down at us.
i belong wholly to myself
and the universe
it humbles me
The greatest part of this book, for me, was Rupi Kaur’s forward, where she brought you through her immigration to North America, leaving her home where women are devices designed to be taken from, and coming to a place where men are brought up to take, not from religion, or out of a fixed set of beliefs, but purely because they’ve had the freedom to do as they’ve pleased.
Everything fell flat after that. It was a powerful opener. Powerful and enlightening.
Part of me thinks people only like this book because they feel like they should like it.