Today I’m sharing with you all, although I doubt you haven’t heard of it, Rupi Kaur’s book of poems, “milk and honey”. I know I’m late jumping on the “milk and honey” bandwagon but here I go anyway.
Regardless of how you might feel about “pop poets” or “instapoets”, there are lessons in their writings. Simple as they may be, I think the style of pop poets are good for sharing experiences and lessons rather than showcasing multilayered poetry that has you staring out into the distance until you figure out what the heck the poet is artistically saying. There are pros and cons to traditional poetry and pop poetry but both allow for the reader to have moments of reflection. Different kinds of reflection, sometimes, but reflection nonetheless.
Since published in 2014, the collection has “sold well over a million copies gracing the New York Times bestsellers list every week for over a year. It has since been translated into over thirty languages”.
Wow. Get it, girl! Before these pop poets, interest in poetry had been dwindling. Who knows, maybe this will get people back into classic poetry like E.E. Cummings, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, or other poets that are still alive and know what the internet is.
In the meantime, I don’t see why there wouldn’t be room for another genre of art (or non-art, I don’t know who decides these things, ask that official). Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup cans weren’t always so popular either. Art is always evolving.
“Milk and honey” is divided into four sections; the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and the healing. She touches themes of trauma, love, heartache and, yes, healing. While I do not relate to all of her experiences, namely the traumatic ones, it still is eye-opening that, through her words, I can get a small sense of what that crippling pain has put her and others in similar positions through.
This book has roughly 25 poems that had me reflecting on my life. Below, I include a handful of them and I briefly share the lessons I gathered. They may or may not be the same as what it meant to you, but that’s the beauty of poetry (and literature in general, really).
Maybe I understood something you may not have considered but also relate… or maybe I’m way off base and you can tell me in the comments! Either way, I hope you enjoy if not my input than surely some of Kaur’s poetic prose.
Treat people how you would want to be treated. As much as this saying is circulated, some still don’t follow it. It isn’t until they are treated poorly that some realize why that saying came to be and are left with two choices:
I can be bitter cause the world (or whoever) didn’t give a crap about treating me well so why should I care about others?
I can learn from this horrible taste in my mouth and be kind to others so this experience and attitude isn’t unnecessarily spread.
It’s clear what path Kaur decided to take in this poem.
The importance of how someone is raised is crazy. As much as society may giggle about *daddy issues*, it really comes from a real, deep, and sometimes miserable place. While I have always had a loving father who taught me nothing but love and encouraged self-confidence, this poem opened my eyes partially to why I am who I am and what kind of a man I want for my own children.
How to explain this one… the risk of “knowing” that someone out there is going to cross paths with you and sparks are going to fly and that’s it. The one you are going to end up with fifty years from now. Then the occasional fear of, well, “all my friends are getting married and I don’t even have a meaningful relationship at the moment” seeps in. FAITH my friends. That’s what she is talking about. But c’mon guys, there’s a top to every teapot. I stand by that!
So this is a huge one for me. It is extremely important for people to… not “find themselves” because what is that really, but just be at peace with who they are and what they want in life. No one can be in a healthy relationship until they are okay alone. I don’t mean being a loner, that’s okay too, but I mean knowing that regardless of the people in your life, you are responsible for designing your life and are in complete control! Relationships start and end, but in both states, you have to know that you are an amazing thing. It’s when two people that are in these independent states connect that come to set the city on fire.
I like all things that acknowledge the pitfalls of relationships. I like those horrifying movies where the guy doesn’t get the girl and vice versa cause it teaches us to be okay when that happens and know that you’re not the only one going through this.
No matter what, somewhere along the line, there will be hardship between you two. But as long as you always find your ways back (thanks to a solid foundation), it will only strengthen your bond.
This poem is beautiful to illustrate just how someone can affect your very being. Someone that has been having bad days, weeks, months, or years can meet someone who just soothes that rage and anguish into something still powerful but less destructive.
Hearing your S.O.’s name when you’re at the peak of your relationship does nothing but capture your attention and even raise your heart rate… but have that same name said when they’ve hurt you, you’ve hurt them, what have you, then hearing/seeing/thinking that name does the exact opposite and sinks your stomach down to your toes or wring a tight knot to your throat. Powerful stuff, this one.
It’s important to have someone from a similar background. While your backgrounds don’t have to be the exact same, if they vary too much then the understanding aspect of a relationship can be difficult.
If you’ve worked since you were 16 and your person only worked in internships and finally until they got their 9-5 job, it’s hard for them to truly know the pains of being on your feet 8+ hours a day. How frustrating it can be when you’ve worked ridiculously hard just to make a paycheck that disappears the moment you get it in your hands and goes to rent, bills, groceries, gas, etc. Back to work you go.
They can try and say, “I’m sorry, that sounds hard,” while you babble on about stupid tiny things like how messy the travel size section you worked on for two shifts got in one hour.
While you won’t have those pains your whole life, it echoes into your future sympathies. He may become an “Eh, there are people for that” thinker, while you know it isn’t that much more effort to just put the item in the right place and make someone else’s life just a little less tedious.
While this example won’t doom your relationship, differences in education, family life, money handling, etc. might. But this is where understanding where you come from is what can give you a chance.
This illustration is the perfect visual for how falling for someone thinking that they’re ready to catch you… then turns out they’re not feels. This poem starts Kaur’s “the breaking” section of the book. This one’s pretty self-explanatory. No need for me to say more.
That last sentence resonated with me so much. Even during heartbreak, you find yourself making excuses for the other, but in the end, whatever they did, think, are, feel, it stops mattering because it doesn’t help you one way or the other. The sooner you let them go the better. IDEALLY LOL. Feelings are fickle friends.
In a relationship, it’s okay to lose yourself in them, but often times people forget to check in with themselves when things are going wrong until they wake up one day and realize they’ve stopped caring for their own happiness.
I like this one. It’s in her healing series, but it’s something that is so useful to repeat to aid your heart into calmness and focusing yourself into a happier future.
Thanks for making it this far! I hope you enjoyed something I said and would love to read some of your favorite selections from “milk and honey”. Don’t forget to subscribe to be the first to see my newest posts!
Until next time,