I got this book from my local library in Gorey, Co Wexford. I had it out much longer than I really should, but didn’t want to part from it. I have managed to get a copy of the book, from Wally in Red Books in Wexford town.
It was self-published originally in 2014, and later on by Andrew McMeel Publishing, after its popularity. It was a New York Times bestseller, and has been translated into 30 languages. The genre is down as ‘instapoetry’, which is basically poetry that was originally written for social media platforms, the obvious one being Instagram.
The book is split up into different sections, four, and deals with a different issue. They are, ‘the hurting’, ‘the loving’, ‘the breaking’, and ‘the healing’. It is beautiful, and painful, and real, and raw. Rupi’s uniqueness with not having titles on her poems, and also not using capital letters, adds to its bravery, breaking all the usual school-taught grammar, punctuation, and capitalisation rules. Not titling, or heading work, was a definite ‘no-no’, in my classroom anyway, especially in secondary school. You could, and would lose marks in submitted work for that, and don’t even mention examinations!
Nature is spoken about often in Kaur’s poetry, connecting nature and humanity, (or lack off) through grounding, and roots. Some people may be shocked at how open Kaur’s work is, not just in words, but in her illustrations too, which she did also.
With the title of the book being Milk and Honey there are bees on the front cover which I like. I need not say the title also relates to the contrast of bitter sour milk in comparison to the sweetness that the honey bees make for us, from nature’s flowers. The cover is black with white illustrations and writing, and the inside in typical white paper with black illustrations and writing.
The blurb at the back is even laid out like a poem, and reads,
“this is the journey of
surviving through poetry
this is the blood sweat tears
of twenty-one years
this is my heart
in your hands
As a poet, and a writer, who has been through so much myself, I completely get what she has written at the back of her book, and indeed in all of her work. Poetry for me is a mechanism for how I cope with life. I write when I am happy, and sad, and excited and scared. If you feel like that too, even if you don’t put your heart in someone else’s hands, this book is a must read, and can be devoured in one sitting with a glass of wine, or savoured over a week or two.
(c) Grace O’Reilly
Order your copy online here.