Rupi Kaur: The Instagram Activist and Feminist Poet Everyone Needs To Read

Rupi Kaur: The Instagram Activist and Feminist Poet Everyone Needs To Read

A review of "milk and honey," a book of poetry that emptied me and filled me up all at once.
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my heart woke me crying last night

how can I help i begged

my heart said

write the book

This is the epigraph to “milk and honey,” a new, achingly beautiful book of poetry by Rupi Kaur. I recently read “milk and honey” and still cannot stop thinking about it — the poems have completely engulfed me and then left me out to dry. It is the kind of book that makes me wish I have not read it yet so I could go back to the beginning and experience it for the first time all over again. This is my attempt to show you what a magical book “milk and honey” is in the hopes I convince you to read it asap.

Kaur covers a range of heavy topics throughout the book: assault, abuse, love, loss, racism, and feminism. But “milk and honey” is ultimately a book about healing from traumas and overcoming our past and present demons. The book is divided into four sections: the hurting, the loving, the breaking and the healing. The titles speak for themselves; Kaur takes the reader through her dark times, her struggles to find self-love and her journey of healing and finding peace.

If the style of “milk and honey” seems a little Tumblr-esque, you are not far off — Kaur has garnered a large following by posting poetry on social media. A twenty-first century poet, she uses the accessibility of social media to spread her message. Remember last year when Instagram removed a photo of a girl lying on her bed with a period stain on her pants? Yup, that was Rupi Kaur. She created the photography series “period.” to challenge the taboo nature of and disgust associated with women’s bodies. Her feminism shines through her poetry as well, challenging patriarchal norms and uplifting female readers.

Like its title implies, “milk and honey” is thick yet sweet to read; it is smooth going down but congeals into deeper meaning, which is contrary to what the simplistic writing style first suggests. Kaur lays her soul bare, discussing sexual abuse, love, breakups and beauty all in the same minimalist yet powerful style. Her lyrical words pack a punch, and the minimalism only makes their meaning resonate more. The poems sometimes make you feel uncomfortable, aching, and hopeful all at once. And many are provocative, with the intention to make a statement, finding the perfect balance between personal and political.


Kaur’s style is also unique in that she uses no capitalization — everything in “milk and honey,” title included, is written in lowercase lettering. She also does not use any punctuation marks besides periods, which are used sparsely at that. This gives the poetry not only a distinct visual style, but also acts as a sort of equalizer of language. All the words are given the same structural emphasis, so their weight hits you solely based on their powerful meaning.

“milk and honey” is also unique in its illustrations. Throughout the book, Kaur has sprinkled simple, sometimes even childlike drawings that correspond to certain poems. But like the minimalist language, the simplicity of the illustrations do not detract from their poignancy. The drawings are angry, erotic, symbolic and blatantly provide an image to the searing words. Sometimes an illustration is vital to complete a poem.

Reading “milk and honey” can feel like you are examining Kaur’s painfully personal diary, yet the words have the ability to seep into you and resonate with your own story as well. In a way, the minimalist writing style and simple illustrations makes the poems less threatening and more accessible to a reader. Many of the poems are provocative, evoking difficult imagery. But they also beautifully speak to the reader, especially in “the healing” section.

Reaching the end of “milk and honey” gives you the feeling right after a rainstorm — the clouds have passed, the air is fresh and new, and the sky looks hopeful. The rain, like the words, is cathartic.

Do yourself a favor: pick up a copy of “milk and honey,” devour it — and then read it again.


Cover Image Credit: Toronto Desi Diaries

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A Playlist From The iPod Of A Middle Schooler In 2007

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Something happened today that I never thought in a million years would happen. I opened up a drawer at my parents' house and I found my pink, 4th generation iPod Nano. I had not seen this thing since I graduated from the 8th grade, and the headphones have not left my ears since I pulled it out of that drawer. It's funny to me how music can take you back. You listen to a song and suddenly you're wearing a pair of gauchos, sitting on the bleachers in a gym somewhere, avoiding boys at all cost at your seventh grade dance. So if you were around in 2007 and feel like reminiscing, here is a playlist straight from the iPod of a middle schooler in 2007.

1. "Bad Day" — Daniel Powter

2. "Hips Don't Lie" — Shakira ft. Wyclef Jean

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3. "Unwritten" — Natasha Bedingfield

4. "Run It!" — Chris Brown

5. "Girlfriend" — Avril Lavigne

6. "Move Along" — All-American Rejects

7. "Fergalicious" — Fergie

8. "Every Time We Touch" — Cascada

9. "Ms. New Booty" — Bubba Sparxxx

10. "Chain Hang Low" — Jibbs

11. "Smack That" — Akon ft. Eminem

12. "Waiting on the World to Change" — John Mayer

13. "Stupid Girls" — Pink

14. "Irreplaceable" — Beyonce

15. "Umbrella" — Rihanna ft. Jay-Z

16. "Don't Matter" — Akon

17. "Party Like A Rockstar" — Shop Boyz

18. "This Is Why I'm Hot" — Mims

19. "Beautiful Girls" — Sean Kingston

20. "Bartender" — T-Pain

21. "Pop, Lock and Drop It" — Huey

22. "Wait For You" — Elliot Yamin

23. "Lips Of An Angel" — Hinder

24. "Face Down" — Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

25. "Chasing Cars" — Snow Patrol

26. "No One" — Alicia Keys

27. "Cyclone" — Baby Bash ft. T-Pain

28. "Crank That" — Soulja Boy

29. "Kiss Kiss" — Chris Brown

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30. "Lip Gloss" — Lil' Mama

Cover Image Credit: http://nd01.jxs.cz/368/634/c6501cc7f9_18850334_o2.jpg

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