BRONX, NY- It was a warm spring day when I was browsing through the bookshelves of Barnes & Noble. After various months of reading fiction, I wanted a change in genre. A black hardcover with white font caught my attention. There was an illustration of a bee on the cover and as I flipped through the pages, I noticed it was a poetry book: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur.
Taking a seat on one of the benches, I discovered the poems were not in any format I recognized. During my time in middle and high school I was introduced to haikus, iambic pentameter, and stanzas. My teachers had the class study poets like Dickinson, Hughes, Angelou, Poe, De Burgos, and Plath. I tried my best to focus on the meaning of the words, but poetry was one topic in creative writing I could not wrap my head around. Writing one of my own was an even bigger challenge. My poems resembled a Dr. Seuss book.
Kaur explains in her introduction the style of writing used in her poems; “i have a deep desire to write in my mother tongue. there is a beauty in its design. gurmukhi a script in which punjabi is written only uses the period. there is no other punctuation. all letters are treated the same. no distinction between upper and lowercase.” It took no time at all for my eyes to adjust to the text and I fell in love with the format. Her illustrations were beautiful as well. I bought the copy and immersed myself into Kaur’s world.
In Milk and Honey, Kaur dives into the depths of her soul. She expresses herself on the topics of rape, sexual harassment, love, heartbreak, sex, women’s rights, and healing. Each poem awakened emotions within me, an experience I never had with other poets in high school. I was able to connect with Kaur on a spiritual level with every word.
When I completed Milk and Honey, I did a lot of reflecting. I was not expecting Kaur to inspire me so much with word play. In October of 2017, I returned to the bookstore to purchase her second collection, The Sun and Her Flowers. This volume explores the themes of immigration, family, cultural history, mental health, self-love, relationships, and personal growth. The motif of flowers and sunshine flows throughout every page. My heart shattered reading her poem about how infant girls had been treated in India throughout the centuries.
Rupi Kaur changed my perspective about poetry. I recommend reading both Milk and Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers. The collections take the reader on an emotional journey that had a profoundly positive impact on me. I encourage everyone to pick up Kaur’s books and see where she can take you.
Note: Rupi’s third book Home Body is now available!
Photo: Rosa Elena Burgos
Last Updated: January 6, 2022