I will preface this post by saying that I do not how to read poetry. I like reading poetry, and I’m trying to understand poetry better, but I struggle to analyze or understand poetry in a way that I don’t always with fiction.
However, sometimes poems move me, and I’m not completely sure how to put that effect into words, but I think that it’s worth trying.
Because there are some books that make me want to try and make me want to be more, a book that steps outside its pages and seeps into my world.
milk and honey by Rupi Kaur is one of those books.
I started reading it before bed a few nights ago, and I had to actually stop myself so that I didn’t read through the whole thing in one go. I wanted this book to last. I felt like it owed it to the book. Sometimes I rush through books out of excitement, but that didn’t feel right for Kaur’s poetry. Her words needed to be savored and read with care.
As a writer, and a woman, and a person, this book affected me.
Every poem felt like a revelation, like Kaur was constantly unearthing truth that I previously didn’t know how to express. That’s one of the beautiful things about literature, what I really love when I read: when a writer can put into words a thought that was bopping around unformed in my head, when a writer can achieve a sort of universality through their specificity.
Kaur’s beautiful writing pulled me in, but her vulnerability and honesty invited me to fall so totally in the narrative she had crafted.
A lot of this novel was me swimming through her beautiful phrases and then needing to set the book down for just a minute to come up for air.
Kaur divided her poetry into four section, which gave me good moments to do this. These sections and headings also somehow made the whole narrative seem more personal to me, because it brought out this sort of universal cycle of grieving and joy.
Alongside her poems, Kaur has these simple pen drawings that add another layer of intimacy to the experience, because they feel like doodles that let me into her world. It was just truly incredible.
So much of this collection was about empowerment and feeling pain but not being crushed by it, and that was a really powerful thing to read at the end of 2016.
The main thing I think I pulled away was the importance of reading. I’ve struggled with that a lot of this year, because so much had happened. Reading, though, is such an important exercise in empathy, and I want to try and remember that more in 2017. I want to read more good literature—in the sense that the literature makes me feel, not in the sense of the traditional literary canon—and I want to understand more from my readings.
This has been a weird year, but it has been a great year for books. I’m excited to see what 2017 has in store for literature, and I’m thrilled to have started my year off by writing about this beautiful poetry collection.