Monday, 4 September 2017

Morsels of Verse

I was drawn to a Rupi Kaur's bestselling collection of poetry, Milk and Honey (2015), in part because I love reading new contemporary poems, but also as I was curious about this poet who had achieved such extraordinary commercial success.

The collection is divided into four parts: hurting; loving; breaking; and healing. The poems themselves align with these themes and are accompanied by the author's drawings.

Some of the poems I found quite moving, but as a whole the book left me flat. Many of the poems are only a few words long and sound like fortune cookies or horoscopes, for example:

    in love 
    with your solitude

    if the hurt comes
    so will the happiness

    accept yourself
    as you were designed

This was frustrating, leaving me underwhelmed. Lowercase, lacking punctuation, and often rather twee, these morsels drew my attention away from her more meaningful verse with its feminist undercurrent.
Much of this book felt like I was viewing the Twitter stream of a daily self-help account. Reading the thoughts of reviewers on Goodreads and elsewhere it appears that Kaur's verse is polarising, with some people buying into it wholly, and others asking if it is actually poetry.  I lean more towards the detractor side, and it was only the few meaningful poems contained in this collection and the lovely illustrations that prevented me from throwing this book across the room.

For a contemporary poetic voice, check out the poetry of Kate Tempest.