Rupi Kaur’s ‘Milk And Honey’ Is Essential Reading, And Here Are 7 Reasons Why

Poet and spoken word artist Rupi Kaur has received a lot of attention in the past weeks for her fiery response to Instagram’s decision to censor an image Kaur posted. In it, a woman lies sideways on her bed, a trail of menstrual blood ripping through her sweatpants and onto her sheets. Kaur’s response was equal parts cutting and absolutely lovely

Kaur’s signature combination of gentleness and fire is quickly making the Toronto-based spoken word poet one of my favorite contemporary voices. Kaur's poetry collection milk and honey, which came out November 2014, is frank, unnerving, and incredibly moving. It’s been sitting on my nightstand for a few weeks now, and even though I’ve parsed through pretty much all the poems by now, they still make for both comforting and invigorating bedtime reading after a rough day — or for inspiration as I delve into my own writing. Divided into four increasingly personal chapters and adorned with her own simple, haunting sketches, the collection traces Kaur’s coming into her own as a poet and a woman, her loss, pain, love, and healing.

Kaur is a natural speaker, comfortable, poised, and animated in front of a microphone — so it’s not surprising that what stands out most in her poetry is the way she transmits her eager-hearted wisdom through her poem’s even cadence and her sentence's piercing simplicity: at times collected, torrential at others. 

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Here are 7 reasons why Kaur’s poetry is essential reading:

It will make your heart race

i don’t know what living a balanced life feels like
when i am sad
i don’t cry i pour
when i am happy
i don’t smile i glow
when i am angry
i don’t yell i burn

It will make you angry

our backs
tell stories
no books have
the spine to
carry

It will make you shiver

he placed his hands
on my mind
before reaching
for my waist
my hips
or my lips
he didn’t call me
beautiful first
he called me
exquisite

It will make you hopeful

you are the faint line
between faith and
blindly waiting

It will make you smile

i want to apologize to all the women
i have called pretty
before i’ve called them intelligent or brave
i am sorry i made it sound as though
something as simple as what you’re born with
is the most you have to be proud of when your
spirit has crushed mountains
from now on i will say things like
you are resilient or you are extraordinary
not because i don’t think you’re pretty
but because you are so much more than that

It will make you think

of course i want to be successful
but i don’t crave success for me
i need to be successful to gain
enough milk and honey
to help those around
me succeed

It will make you feel empowered

the next time he
points out the
hair on your legs is
growing back remind
that boy your body
is not his home
he is a guest
warn him to
never outstep
his welcome
again

It will make you strong

you must
want to spend
the rest of your life
with yourself
first

Image: rupikaur.com

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