“Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur (2015)

Wow. Wow wow wow wow wow. Wow.

On Christmas day I went to a friend’s house and at one point she handed me this poetry collection and told me to check it out. A mutual friend of ours had gotten it for her for her Christmas present and she told me that it was the best gift she had received that day. I opened it at random, and immediately was overwhelmed by what I read. This was the poem:

what am i to you he asks
i put my hands in his lap
and whisper you
are every hope
i’ve ever had
in human form

The moment I got home that night, I immediately purchased it on Amazon. I have since devoured it, twice, and keep coming back to it. One evening my boyfriend and I just spent the time reading the poems to each other. We would have to pause between some to collect ourselves and gather our thoughts. I have since purchased this poetry collection for two additional friends and recommended it to even more. I can honestly say that it is one of the most beautiful, affecting, heartbreaking, and empowering works I have ever read. And up until now, in spite of holding several degrees in literature, had considered myself someone who never truly appreciated poetry. This work is transcendent of the genre, and even those who do not read poetry will love and cherish it, as long as you are human, have a heart, and can relate to the notion of having experiences an emotion at least once in your life.

book

The book is divided into four categories: the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and the healing. Each one does exactly what the title suggests. These sections explore emotions and experiences that are at the same time deeply personal to the author, the incredible Rupi Kaur, and universally relatable to anyone in the world. The hurting looks into the way that abuse and trauma affect the individual. The loving touches on the incredible highs that love and romance can evoke. The breaking connects to the end of a relationship, and the doubt that seeps in when one is left or leaves, and love is no more. The healing, my favorite amongst the four amazing sections, shows how one gets put back together again, but most importantly, learns to love themselves and finds their own strength and power that was there all along.

rupi-kaur
Rupi Kaur

A beautiful aspect of this collection is the marriage of words and art. Kaur doesn’t only write gorgeous and succinct poetry, but draws as well. At times the drawings that accompany a majority of the poems are literal – other times the drawings are more abstract. The poem I quoted earlier is accompanied by a human shape, drawn as a collection of circles. Simple, hermetic, and beautiful.

how is it so easy for you
to be kind to people he asked

milk and honey dripped
from my lips as i answered

cause people have not
been kind to me

The book details difficult subjects that usually are not as common in poetry as they are in other forms of artistic expression. Race, sexual violence, desire, the female body – Kaur draws from her own experiences and crafts a masterpiece that reads as a diary of her pain, her joy, her turmoil, and her search for love and acceptance, only to ultimately find it within herself. After having read this work, I found her Ted Talk and it only made me appreciate it more. I’ve already told most peopleĀ in my life that they must read this book. My best friend wrote me a string of thank you texts after having received my gift in the mail. Now I am recommending it here, to you, whomever you may be. Read this book. Cherish it. You will not be sorry. It may make all the difference in the entire world.

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