I have yet to read milk & honey, but was privileged to be able to purchase her eagerly anticipated follow-up "the sun and her flowers" for just $10 at Indigo on Black Friday!
Rupi Kaur's popularity has blown up all over social media & the interwebs. Riveting and illuminating, highly personal and raw, this book definitely blew my mind in the best way possible, and was a great re-introduction into the fascinating world of contemporary poetry.
I was eager to consume her poetry in one sitting, but it was not possible. To do so would probably be doing her poetry a disservice as it's a book you'll want to revisit at different points of your life. I truly believe hers are words to be read, and re-read over again. Over candles and cups of warm tea. Snuggling in bed & blankets with the rain pattering on your window. Lying in a blooming field on a hot summer's day. While on a road trip with the window down and the wind caressing your hair. There is so much depth and meaning to them, as they encompass various themes beyond just romantic love (overdone much?) - immigration, ancestry, rape/sexual assault, friendship, self-identity, self-love, feminism, empowerment, etc. All of these are really personal themes which all of us can relate to at some level. Most importantly, she takes the reader on a deep and introspective journey of growth, connection, healing and discovery. & yes, she definitely makes you feel all the feels, and intensely so.
The book was aptly & artfully divided into the various sections: wilting, falling, rooting, rising and blooming. Also, she has this rare and beautiful gift of conjuring up striking imagery through illustrations (done by herself) which are thoughtfully dispersed and accompany much of her poetry.
Some standout pieces, in my opinion, include:
Home (Pages 68-72) - likens sexual assault to destroying one's home, detailing her downfall and triumph as a survivor
"it takes a broken person to come searching for meaning between my legs"
what love looks like (pages 30-33) -
"and i realised how naive i had been to place an idea so beautiful on the image of a person"
"but i think love starts here everything else is just desire and projection of all our wants needs and fantasies but those externalities could never work out if we didn't turn inward and learn how to love ourselves in order to love other people"
time (page 55)
"life does not stop for anybody it drags you by the legs whether you want to move forward or not"
"you will make it to the end of what is only the beginning go on open the door to the rest of it"
a never-ending search (page 84)
"my eyes make mirrors out of every reflective surface they pass searching for something beautiful looking back"
growth is a process (page 87)
"you do not just wake up and become the butterfly"
this will free you both (page 100)
"wish pure love and soft peace upon the ones who've been unkind to you and keep moving forward"
self-harm (page 103)
"the way you speak of yourself the way you degrade yourself into smallness is abuse"
acceptance (page 108)
"if i am the longest relationship of my life isn't it time to nurture intimacy and love with the person i lie in bed with each night"
pages 114 - 115
"this is the recipe of life said my mother as she held me in her arms as i wept think of those flowers you plant in the garden each year they will teach you that people too must wilt fall root rise in order to bloom"
lessons from mumma (page 122)
"when it came to speaking she said do it with commitment every word you say is your own responsibility"
"when it came to being she said be tender and tough at once you need to be vulnerable to live fully but rough enough to survive it all"
checklist (page 172)
"do i see us evolving into new people by the decade or does the growing ever come to a pause i don't want to be distracted by the looks or money i want to know if they pull the best or worst out of me deep at the core are our values the same in thirty years will we still jump into bed like we're twenty can i picture us in old age conquering the world like we've got young blood running in our veins"
"it has been one of the greatest and most difficult years of my life. i learned everything is temporary. moments. feelings. people. flowers. i learned love is about giving. everything. and letting it hurt. i learned vulnerability is always the right choice because it is easy to be cold in a world that makes it so very difficult to remain soft. i learned all things come in twos. life and death. pain and joy. salt and sugar. me and you.....we must learn to focus on warm energy. always. soak your limbs in it and become better lovers to the world. for if we can't learn how to be kind to each other how will we ever learn to be kind to the most desperate parts of ourselves."
i refuse to do a disservice to my life (page 200)
"i will no longer compare my path to others"
legacy (page 213)
"i stand on the sacrifices of a million women before me thinking what can i do to make this mountain taller so the women after me can see farther"
timeless (page 234)
"they convinced me i only had a few good years left before i was replaced by a girl younger than me as though men yield power with age but women grow into irrelevance they can keep their lies for i have just gotten started i feel as though i just left the womb my twenties are the warm-up for what i'm really about to do wait till you see me in my thirties now that will be a proper introduction to the nasty. wild. woman in me. how can i leave before the party's started rehearsals begin at forty i ripen with age i do not come with an expiration date and now for the main event curtains up at fifty let's begin the show."
Although she has received her fair dose of scathing criticism for being an "Instagram poet" and for rehashing similar themes from her debut offering "milk & honey" (which I haven't read), I actually think she makes poetry and art accessible in bite-size pieces to attention-deficit readers.
As Rupi so kindly reminds us via the cyclical pattern of nature - it is inevitable that humans wilt and fall, but it is possible to root, rise and bloom into who you are meant to be.