Arts & Culture

Book Review: milk and honey by Rupi Kaur

“Our backs tell stories no books have the spine to carry.”

Rupi Kaur’s milk and honey has been a New York Times Bestseller for 52 consecutive weeks. One of her initial works, the book is a collection of poetry and prose. A 24-year-old Canadian writer of Indian descent, Kaur has housed her times of struggle in this piece of art. Her style of writing is based on the Gurmukhi script in which just one case and only periods are used. Hence, she writes in lowercase and makes use of only periods as a way of honoring her culture. Her books have been translated into about thirty other languages; which explains the increasing love for her poetry.

Rupi tackles various issues through her poetry, from growing up seeing broken families to love and heartbreak, or gender and race, before finishing with a healing full of wisdom and lessons learned. People consume poetry through lyrics on a daily basis without ever realising, and that’s what she manages to do with the simplicity and brutal honesty of her words. She fearlessly challenges taboos, and this brave form of expression inspires her readers. Her honest, authentic voice speaks to the young people who relate to her portrayal of pain and struggle at different points of life.

The emotional intensity of her message of self-empowerment and affirmation, combined with her passionate expression truly resonates in the book. With a firm belief, her relatable poetry, not clouded behind elaborate metaphor or archaic syntax, can heal and prevent convulsions. Kaur breaks her book into four parts; “the hurting”, “the loving”, “the breaking” and “the healing”. The poems open in a certain dark aura depicting her battles with sexual assault and familial issues. The next section, “the loving”, is a more  emotionally uplifting read, about building and realising a sweet and idealistic bond of love. “the breaking” brings aching poems penned during heartbreaks. The last section of this book is about empowering women to embrace themselves and to value who they are regardless of the turmoil they have endured. Kaur holds nothing back; there is no mystery in her poems, but each one captures a seemingly familiar thought or feeling with such an exquisitely satisfying and unique form of expression. The poems are illustrated with simple line drawings, to accompany or offer a new understanding to the words.

While reading the collection from its beginning to end, one can walk through her own journey, or can find herself in a poem or prose while letting the book fall open on a new page, and venture into that one poem, exploring that one expression to its full depth. Whether you’re a regular poetry reader, or someone who dives into verses from time to time, you can quench your thirst through these poems.

Feature Image credits:  Stella constellations

Radhika Boruah

radhikab@dubeat.com

Author

A voracious reader of Mythology, embedded in a passionate Economics student who is also fanatically involved in Hindustani Classical Music. Tattoos and baking cakes are her muse. Ever reach out to talk at radhikab@dubeat.com