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unpopular opinion - review on milk and honey

Milk and Honey is widely known for its honest and raw poetry, and for its feminist
stance. However, despite appreciating and agreeing with many of Kaur’s ideas, I
wouldn’t read this if you are expecting excellent literature.
The book is broken up into four parts: each focusing on a different cycle in romantic
relationships, however what is kept constant is the style and rhythm of poetry. The
layout is quite simplistic, black and white with few words on the page, with no capital
letters – a stylistic element that I personally loved. I really admired Kaur’s sketches and
to me, these were the only stand-out factor of the book. But that’s where the goodness
Despite its universal praise, I don't think that I could really call this collection poetry at
all. To me, it’s just sentences, broken up by many clicks of the enter key. Some of you
may disagree with me however for poetry to be poetry it needs to hold a certain lyricism;
something was heavily lacking in Kaur’s words. Many of the poems were a mere
scattering of less than 10 words on a page! Some of the themes brought up
reverberated with me, and a few of the sentences were laced beautifully with well-
chosen words, however there were very few poems that I would call real poetry, simply
because of the lack of exploration of the ideas, lyricism, rhythm and other basic poetic
elements. Many of the poems could be one or two sentences, and work just as well, if
not better. Take the following, for example:

loneliness is a sign
you are in desperate
need of yourself

This is an overly simplistic idea, that hasn't been explored or furthered; merely a
statement. To me, this is not poetry in the least; just a thought, presented in the form of
an unnecessary three lines as opposed to one. It feels like more of a quote that one
would find on tumblr, doesn’t really divulge much about the author herself and frankly
lacks any depth at all. Poetry should challenge your views, make you stop and wonder,
and keep you up at night. None of Kaur’s poetry evoked nearly enough emotion in me to
reach even close to this. Universally acknowledged ideas portrayed with mundane
expression and

that we
are supposed to call
i think
let’s get one thing straight –
simply clicking
the enter key
your writing isn’t
a poem.
And I don’t know about you, but just rereading that^ gave me a headache, because
my reading voice

See how annoying it is? Yeah, milk and honey is fully set out in this format.
I have read reviews raving on about how readers felt so empowered by the aspect of
feminism and self-love but personally I didn’t feel empowered at all. After a while, the
poems start to blend together and the message gets repetitive. The fact that I can sum
up a book of “poetry” in one sentence suggests that there is very little – if any – depth of
ideas here.
There is also one idea that Kaur reiterates throughout the collection: that you must
be whole by yourself or fully self-accepting before someone else can love you. I
wholeheartedly disagree with this concept. Many of the relationships I’ve had – the best
of them – are based upon helping each other accept ourselves, flaws and all, when we
can’t seem to do it alone. But maybe that’s just me…
However I would like to acknowledge and respect Rupi Kaur’s strength and bravery
for sharing such an intimate part of herself, as that is understandably hard. However
based on the actual book itself, I would not call it the literary masterpiece that it has
been widely dubbed. 🙂

1 comment

amarlie Centre for Youth Literature

This is an amazing review, Aahana! I so agree with all of your points.

15th Nov, 17