Book Report: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur (2015)

Book coverAh, gentle reader, I had a hard time writing this particular book report. For this young woman is a New York Times best-selling author, and she has appeared on numerous television programs and many venues, reading her poetry to large live audiences. And, as you might know, I have self-published a collection of poetry (Coffee House Memories–surely you have not forgotten even as you have not bought it!) that sold dozens of copies. Or at least a dozen. Perhaps.

So you might consider anything negative I have to say sour grapes. You might even be right! However, here’s what I thought.

I bought this collection of poetry in August, and although it is not my wont this year to read poetry or artists’ monographs during football games, but this would have been one I could have browsed as the poems are generally short.

According to a quick Internet search, the author is a more modern InstaPoet who wrote and illustrated this book when she was 21, and she’s a perfomance poet, although meta tags from various Web sites don’t indicate this is the rough-and-tumble poetry slam/open mic world or more genteel events where she is the featured poet given in small rooms or auditoriums at universities. Probably the latter, although in interviews she says she came up through the open mic circuit. They might be friendlier in Canada than the Wabash or the Venice Cafe, though.

So what of the poetry? Most of it is only a couple of lines, a lot like a thoughtful tweet. Some of the sentiments thematically resonate with me, or at least with where I would have been in my twenties–I mean, look at much of the material in , particularly the reproductions of Unrequited (released when I was 22) and Deep Blue Shadows (released when I was 23). They share a bit of the cynical romanticism, the hardened vulnerability….

But some, not so much, as they rely a bit on modern feminist celebrations:

the goddess between your legs
makes mouths water

That are really not for me. That is a whole poem, so you can see what I mean by being tweet-length. What is it? Does it somehow describe the vagina as a deity separate from the vagina-bearer that somehow causes a salivary response akin to good food or a conditioned response to Russian bell-ringing, or is a simplistic and twee feminist self-affirmation or reclamation of sexual power? I’ll take Occam’s razor to it: The simplest answer is probably true.

So some of the shorter poems have a good sentiment but are undeveloped, and when the pieces are longer, they’re unrefined. Overall, the work reminds me of Pierre Alex Jeanty whom I read earlier in the year and who is also more of an Internet “influencer” than a true poet.

The volume I have has some poems or lines therein highlighted–I’m not sure whether this means the books was used as a textbook or if the previous owner marked bits from favorite poems that way. It’s not how I do it, of course–if I like a poem a lot, I memorize it. And have been known to recite them at open mics. Including Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” which is, what, 20 pages? Yeah, you don’t uncork those too often at open mic nights. Certainly not at the Wabash or the Venice Cafe.

So, overall: Some promise, but a lot of emotion dumps that express but do not evoke. Still, if I see one of her later volumes at ABC Books, I’ll probably pick it up.

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