My Freshman year of college I was introduced to the book ‘milk and honey’ by Rupi Kaur. The book is a collection of short poems and line drawings that address issues of rape, abuse, love, loss, empowerment, and misogyny. I remember reading through the book and putting sticky notes on almost every page because I related to the words and loved what they said.
I am obviously a huge fan of Rupi Kaur and her poetry. I even have a tattoo of one of the drawing from one of my favorite pages.
Since I love this book so much, I decided that I wanted to look at a review of the book that wasn’t very positive. I wanted to see if I agreed with the issue the reviewer took.
I found a review on Buzzfeed by a woman named Chiara Giovanni. She is a Buzzfeed contributor and she had a lot to say about ‘milk and honey’.
Most of the negative reviews about this book come from her simple style of poetry. This is not something that I think is negative because she is just trying to get a message across and she is attempting to bring issues forward.
Giovanni has a perspective that I do respect and that, while it doesn’t change my mind on the book, it does bring issue to the book that I now understand.
The main issue she takes with Kaur’s book is that Kaur got her fame initially from an Instagram post showing menstrual blood that was removed by Instagram and she fought it. It is this kind of vulnerability and realism that attracts people to Kaur. However, she does not talk about her personal experiences in relation to the book.
The other main issue is that Kaur wants to address race, but, in order to reach a large audience, writers often have to make their words more western.
“That’s because her mass appeal lies in her perceived universality, with her fans often claiming that she vocalizes feelings they have not been able to put into words. Other minority writers, who trade in specifics and details, not broad-reaching sentiments and uncomplicated feminist slogans, would probably not achieve the same level of success. It is the paradox of the minority writer: the requirement to write in a way that is colored by one’s background, but is, at the same time, recognizable enough to a Western audience that it does not intimidate with its foreignness. It is only by eschewing complacency and holding such artists to account that mainstream media and culture will become more diverse: the kind of representation that, without compromise, accurately tells the stories of people of color around the world, and not just the stories that are the easiest to sell. ●”