Why “Milk and Honey” Will Soothe the Soul

“this is the journey of/surviving through poetry/this is the blood sweat tears/of twenty-one years/this is my heart/in your hands/this is/the hurting/the loving/the breaking/the healing[…]”

This is the introduction to the poetry book Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. The book follows the journey of Kaur as she describes her experiences with sexual assault, falling in love, violence, femininity, and sexuality. Kaur was first introduced to the public after posting a photo to her Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/rupikaur_/) in collaboration with her sister, Prabh Kaur, for a project entitled “period”. The photo depicted a real life situation that people who menstruate deal with and what followed can only be described as a social media uproar. Individuals from both sides fought and argued in the comments that what she was doing was either radically liberating or downright disgusting. Kaur refused to stay silent though, even when Instagram removed her photograph twice, and her passion caused her fan base to grow considerably.

With such a large group of people following her, Kaur took a chance and started to publish some of her writing, and the sketches that accompanied them, on her Instagram. As she continued to write and post her poetry, her follower count swelled; while the controversy may have been what led people to find her, the poetry is the reason they stayed. In November of 2014, Kaur self-published her collection of poems under the title Milk and Honey. The books sales went through the roof, and a short amount of time later, Andrew McMeel Publishing picked up the novel. As of September 2016, over half a million copies of Milk and Honey have been sold, and the company has launched its 16th printing of the collection.

The collection of poetry is broken down into four main parts: “the hurting,” “the loving,” “the breaking,” and “the healing.” Each of these sections focuses on a different type of pain that Kaur has come across in her life and how she learned to accept and heal from it. The arrangement of the novel makes it clear that each section is its own part, as black pages split each section, marking a clear transition between topics. However, despite the sections being well defined in where they stop and start, Kaur makes all of it still seem connected. Readers do not feel as if they are reading four separate books of poetry. Instead, it is as if all of the poems seem to flow one into another with no resistance. The language Kaur employs plays a large part into this easy flow between poems. She not only captures the reader with metaphors and analogies, but she creates a world of words that sheds light onto issues that many young adults, specifically young women, face.

The amazing thing about these poems is not the beautiful language or the unique setup of the book though, it’s the frankness and connection Kaur makes with her readers. From the second a person starts reading, they are pushed into this journey with Kaur. Readers feel her pain, her love, her suffering, her joy, and every other emotion with her. For 208 pages, neither Kaur or the reader is alone with their pain or their love; there is always someone there to share the burden and the passion. Milk and Honey is a must read for anyone who is looking for a book that soothes their soul and helps them move on from one part of life to the next.

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