Milk and Honey, a collection of poems by Rupi Kaur was published in 2015 but has skyrocketed to recent success thanks to the internet kids of Tumblr and Twitter babygirls from around the world. Before I begin this review, I’d like to state how I do appreciate Kaur’s work for its simplicity and its truth; this review is not negative towards her or her art but more so a complaint about those who use her work purely for its aesthetic—failing to recognize and comprehend the power of her words alone.
As an avid poetry enthusiast, I find it to be a bit annoying that the majority of people who have read this book have also posted about it. Kaur is not the only victim of these relentless trendy millennials; before her, it was Shel Silverstein’s illustrations and writings adorning these stylish timelines. I repeat—my problem is not with the works of these writers nor even those who enjoy their art. However, when the girl who shops at Urban Outfitters religiously picks up Milk and Honey because it matches her outfit only to open it and realize its poetry suddenly finds a deeper meaning in her life—I just don’t buy it. Those who must take a picture of every page to share with their followers, I feel, aren’t exactly absorbing every meaning of the words they are posting about. Poetry is something intimate, it should have a personal connection and it’s important to keep these connections personal. I find it hard to believe those who constantly post the poems they are reading are genuinely getting everything they can from the pieces.
As for Kaur’s work, as stated before, I do appreciate it; there are a few poems in there that actually spoke to me. Her translation of the journey of heartbreak proves to be painfully relatable and simultaneously beautifully romantic. She has taken her share of criticism, though; one person has said, “no offense but anyone could have written Milk and Honey.”
What they said could be true; Kaur’s words are simple by nature, and while many claim to see the beauty in her simplicity, this simplistic beauty was accomplished long before by poets I’m sure half of these babygirls have never even heard of. Kaur’s style in Milk and Honey actually reminds me of a collection of poems by Lang Leav entitled Love and Misadventure; unfortunately, her cover wasn’t as aesthetically pleasing, so it didn’t build as large of a crowd. It bothers me that great poets like Langston Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Charles Bukowski, and Walt Whitman are overlooked for the sake of following the latest trend. Another person has said, “I’m sorry but if you think Milk and Honey is an example of good poetry, don’t talk to me;” a bit melodramatic in theory, however, they prove a point. It’s as if these people open the book and decide by reading the first page they are suddenly experts on life and are far more artistic than you. I mean, usually, being interested in poetry is plus ten art-hoe points, but in this case, there proves to be a difference between being interested in poetry and being interested in Milk and Honey.
Honestly, we live in a culture held so tightly in the reigns of social media that we question, “If I didn’t post about it, did I even read it?” Same goes for concerts and vacations, “If I didn’t post about it, did I go?” Last night’s dinner, “If I didn’t post about it, did I even eat it?” and so on. We don’t have to share everything it is that we do, and we don’t have to do something just because someone with over 1,000 followers said that’s what they like. Humans are individuals—so let’s know when to come together and when it’s okay to stand apart.