milk and honey by rupi kaur

Milk and Honey is a wonderful name for a book of poetry. There are no capitals anywhere in the entire book, so I left the capitals out of the title and author’s name. That’s the way it appears on the cover. All of the “I”s are lower case. Nothing has a title. Sometimes there are one-line comments after a poem; a dedication or summary. The poems are deceptively short and simple, few exceed ten lines and many are only three or four, but their subject matter is far from easy. Kaur writes about abuse, sexual assault, misogyny twisted up with racism, and the ups and downs of romantic relationships. Many times her poems focus on menstruation, women’s bodies, and women’s sexuality. At no point does she mince words. It’s refreshing to have these topics addressed so candidly, something that happens more often nowadays but is still frequently considered taboo. Kaur packs quite a punch into a tiny three line poem. Or puts a lot of anger into a poem about body hair. She speckles the book with line drawings, switching between a rage of scribbles or a single curving line to represent a whole figure. They’re evocative and sometimes discomfiting. There’s nudity, sex, and threats in the drawings too. It goes with the poems. One of the neatest is a half page covered with falling eyelashes. It’s paired with a two line poem about loss. Together they create a unique perspective on grieving the end of a relationship that I’ve never heard anywhere else. That sums up Kaur well. What she’s writing is stuff rarely heard anywhere else. The world would be a much richer place if we had more voices like Kaur’s; the voices that aren’t usually heard.

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