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Over the past few years, Rupi Kaur has become one of today's most popular poets. At just 25, the Canadian-Indian poet is the author and illustrator of two New York Times Bestsellers: milk and honey, and the sun and her flowers. She's performed her poetry around the world, and her collections have been translated in more than thirty languages.
Rupi Kaur's 2014 poetry collection, milk and honey, is a work of art. Broken into four sections (the hurting, the loving, the breaking, the healing), milk and honey explores love and loss, abuse, violence, self-love, and femininity.
I knew milk and honey was a big deal because they were selling it at a little bookstore in town that only sold older poetry. I’d heard so many good things about it that I figured it wouldn’t hurt to pick up a copy. It sat on my shelf for months before I read it, which I deeply regret.
The way milk and honey presents femininity is unlike other poetry collections. I’ve read poems in which women don’t sound confident in themselves, even when writing about self-acceptance. I’ve read poems in which men tell women to love themselves. In milk and honey, Kaur owns her insecurities, while taking steps to overcome them. This is strongest in “the healing,” the fourth section of the book. Kaur’s words are empowering without coming off as condescending or self-pitying. Reading this poetry collection makes me proud to be a woman.
Kaur released her second poetry collection, the sun and her flowers, in October 2017. Like milk and honey, the sun and her flowers presents a raw view on life told in five sections—wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. Each section builds off of the one before it, showing a transformation over the course of the book.
That is one of the joys of reading Kaur's poetry. Each poem is carefully crafted; it isn't like other poetry, where books are churned out one after the other and the poet's words become stale and familiar. Over the course of two books, Kaur manages to share some valuable lessons with her readers, yet each poem delivers the message as though you're reading it for the first time.
Just like milk and honey, the sun and her flowers praises women. In "blooming," the final section of the book, Kaur finds strength within herself and the women around her. Once again, her reflections on femininity are graceful and inspiring. While the earlier poems in the collection may be relatable, the most enjoyable are the ones of self-realization.
Kaur’s beautiful words are paired with simple sketches. While some are simply meant to illustrate an important phrase or idea in their corresponding poem, Kaur's sketches of women stand out. They portray women as both strong and fragile, sensual and flawed; the same way she writes about them.
Kaur writes about life from the perspective of a Canadian-Indian woman. She writes about experiences that are different from my own, yet I never feel alienated by her words. I feel her fear, suffering, heartache, love—Kaur makes you feel her emotions, even if you’ve never lived through those scenarios.
Kaur's poetry is not what I expected. It's a straightforward, honest look at life; family, lovers, sex, abuse. It never seems cliché or tacky. At times, it's almost uncomfortable to read, because she writes of these universal experiences with such raw emotion. The intimacy of her poetry captivates you until the end, and although the journey is tough, you want to jump write back into it.
Everyone should read Rupi Kaur's work. No matter what your own personal struggles are, there is comfort and truth to be found within the pages of her poetry. milk and honey might help you heal, while the sun and her flowers might help you grow. If you only pick up one poetry book, it should be one by Rupi Kaur.