Milk and Honey is split into four sections, each dealing with an aspect of love and relationships, there's the hurting, the loving, the breaking and the healing and each has a number of different poems exploring aspects of life and love connected with these titles.
I read this pretty sporadically so I'm not sure that I have actually read every single poem in there but I've definitely gone through the majority at least once. My work mates have been raving about this collection so I felt I had to check it out.
I always say that I don't like poetry but actually this gave me really lovely nostalgic feelings of being back in A Levels and University where we'd analyse poetry and it made me realise how much I'd missed it! And as a return to academia is currently in the works, this reaffirmed just how much I miss being in that setting.
I found the collection to be a mixed bag. There were some that amounted to little more than a fake deep Tumblr post, which I suppose makes sense given that these garnered attention on social media. I would read them over pen in hand and find nothing of any merit there. A few vaguely emotional sounding lines with nothing more to it is not poetry Rupi, I'm sorry it just isn't. Line breaks that seemed pointless, imagery that was sporadic and didn't mesh with the tone of the poem, and some pages were little more than two lines saying something cringey like
"I flinch when you touch me, I fear it is him." ... wut? Did nobody take Rupi's work and sort it into piles labelled 'dope' and 'um no'? It seems like everything she's done ended up in here regardless of it's individual quality.
But then there was just as many poems that I absolutely loved. I filled the space around them with analysis and fawned over how much depth and richness there were to her words.
There's one in particular titled Solo Performance in which she explores the idea of female masturbation for the pleasure of a man watching and I found it so interesting and clever. The idea that female masturbation has become, or perhaps it always was, something that men often see as for them, and their benefit, rather than the woman who is engaging in it.
An aside to any men, if you've ever watched porn of a woman masturbating, know that irl it doesn't look much like that. That sexy lip-bitey half lidded eye thing? Nope. That's called acting. Women's 'nobody's watching' orgasm faces aren't much different from men's. Just letting you know. Oh? Your girlfriend does it though? Is that when she knows you're watching? Cool.
There are a lot of poems about relationships and gender and I felt that, while a few times she missed the boat and came off sounding like a fifteen year old sat in the rain, her overall approach to these topics and the ideas she explored were very profound, especially for someone so young. The healing section has some poetry that is so uplifting and passionate, full of pride and hope for the future of young women, particularly women of colour, and our ability to appreciate and look after one another.
There's also one that cut me to the quick. So much so that the only annotation I could write beside it was the name of the person who made me feel exactly like that. I've never had a poem sit in my heart the way that one did.
I did enjoy this and it's definitely made me want to go and read more poetry, but I feel like quite a lot of this book was just junk. Perfectly good for a teenagers diary, but not something to be published. Doubtless Rupi has some serious talent and will go on to be a very important voice, but I feel like a lot of this is going to be reconciled to her juvenilia and, when she is older and more established, she's going to look back at this first collection and wish she'd cut a lot of it.
Regardless definitely worth a read :)
Let me know if you've read this and what you thought!