Book Review: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

milk

Genre: Poetry

Year Published: 2014

My Rating:★★★★☆

This collection of poetry has sky-rocketed in the past year. So, as a person who is an avid reader of poetry and is open to trying the most obscure poets as well as the most popular, I decided to pick up this collection to see what it was all about.

The first thing I noticed was the style in which it is written. The style is very short, free-verse poetry that tends to have one or two very impactful lines within the poem. For example, here is one of the poems from the collection that I particularly liked:

your name is
the strongest
positive and negative
connotation in any language
it lights me up or
leaves me aching for days

-rupi kaur

Now, many people (more specifically, avid poetry readers, especially those who pride themselves on reading the greatest names in poetry) would say this is not poetry. That it’s ‘hipster’ poetry for teenage girls.

I, as a reader of all types of poetry, having studied poetry as an English major at the previous university I attended as well as one I attended abroad (which was one of the top in the UK) strongly disagree with this. I have read the greats and have appreciated them just as much as I appreciated this collection of poetry.

Why?

Because unlike poets such as Yeats, Dickinson, Whitman, Frost, and Keats, this collection by Rupi Kaur is, in a word, accessible.

It is accessible to ALL readers and allows readers who are not as familiar with poetry to read and enjoy this. It opens up a whole new world of reading to them, and maybe somewhere down the line in their new journey of poetry reading they will reach the greats and appreciate them as well.

Moving on from the above discussion, I would like to discuss why I enjoyed the content of this collection.

Kaur has an innate talent of packing a big punch in very short poems. This is not an easy feat. To find the words, and so very few at that, that will make a person look up from the book and think “Wow. This is incredibly true and incredibly raw,” is a huge accomplishment. Not only that, but the author tackles subjects that are very touchy, such as rape. She does it in such a way that makes you want to stand up and join all of those women that were marching this past weekend and protect those who have gone through such horrendous, disgusting ordeals (women and men alike). Her poetry is empowering and puts a lot of thoughts and feelings thousands of people have stuck inside their heads onto paper for all to read and all to understand.

All of this is not to say that this is a perfect collection of poetry. There were some poems that didn’t hit home as much as they were intended to. There were some that could have been left out of the book and not have downgraded the collection by any means. However, that being said, I did still enjoy reading every poem in this collection.

The main reason I enjoyed this was because it did something for me, and I’m sure for many other avid poetry readers, that no other collection has done before: it has opened poetry up to the world again. It has made poetry more popular, and it has made poetry a genre that more people are seeking out. For that, I am grateful for this collection.

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Book Review: Whiskey Words & a Shovel II by r.h. Sin

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Genre: Poetry

Year Published: 2016

My Rating:★☆☆☆☆

This review is a short one, folks. You’ll see why as you read on.

This poetry collection, which I was SO excited for, was way over-hyped. I found it to have the following things, and more, that really irked me to the point of no return: preach-y to women (when the author is a man), likes to romanticize depression and the aftermath of abusive relationships, compares a woman’s sex to a winter jacket, continously says he’s a better man than any other man the women he’s speaking to has been with, and is filled to the brim with over-used themes and contantly eye-rolling cliches.

OH and out of the 150+ poems in here? I only liked 5 or 6 of them. OUT OF OVER 150 poems. Man. I definitely don’t think I’ll be reading any more of this author’s work, which makes me upset because I was looking forward to enjoying his work. Alas, no cigar. Hopefully I’ll be diving into some better poetry soon.

Alright, that’s enough griping of this book. I think I’m just going to leave this review at that.

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Book Review: The Cinnamon Peeler by Michael Ondaatje

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Genre: Poetry

Year Published: 1997

My Rating:★★★★★

I had high expectations coming into this book of poems by Ondaatje. The only other work that I had read from him was The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, which was recommended to me by my independent study teacher my senior year of high school. I thank him so much for introducing me to Ondaatje, because I ate that book up within less than a day, and I knew that if Ondaatje could do that with Billy the Kid then he could do it in all his other works too, including The Cinnamon Peeler.

He did just that.

Unlike Billy the Kid, The Cinnamon Peeler was simply a book of poetry. The former was more of a book of prose and poetry that created a story (what would that be called? I’m not entirely sure). Nonetheless, Ondaatje was able to surprise me yet again with his command of the English language. There were moments where I just had to stop and go “damn”.

Ondaatje uses his words in a way that not only makes you sit back and think for a moment, relating everything he has said to yourself and your life experience, but he also makes you wonder how a person could have came up with a few simple words, put them together, and made them so beautiful. I will share with you guys a stanza from one of the poems that caught my eye and made me revel at Ondaatje’s mastery. It is from his poem, Rainy Night Talk:

Here’s to the long legs
driving home
in more and more rain
weaving like a one-sided
lonely conversation
over the mountains

His words are gorgeous. My favorite poem out of the rest was Claude Glass, and I highly recommend that anyone interested in poetry to try him out. I don’t know many other people who are familiar with him and if anyone else is familiar with him I ask that you speak up and spread the word!

Even if you are not that much of a poetry person, check him out. He may change your mind about poetry.

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Book Review: Aimless Love by Billy Collins

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Genre: Poetry

Year Published: 2013

My Rating:★★★★☆

I was skeptical about reading this collection, mostly because my college Intermediate Poetry class that I had taken in previous years made me think that poets like Billy Collins were, can I say, “simpletons” among others like Jack Kerouac and Charles Bukowski.

In the beginning, my theory proved true. I didn’t think many of the ideas in these poems were profound or really made me think about anything meaningful. However, as time went on, I began to find something that Billy Collins had that other poets do not. He had a talent in being profoundly simple.

He was poet laureate twice, I believe, and for that reason my professor called him “the people’s poet” because his poetry was more understandable than others. In a nutshell, everyone could understand and relate to his poetry. At first I thought this was a bad thing, but after reading Aimless Love, I have come to disagree.

Billy Collins is successful because he can relate and reach out to almost everyone that reads him, and that is a HUGE feat to overcome as a poet/writer/author/etc. Not only that, but I found that he has a great talent for moving from image to image flawlessly; if a poem begins at a table in a house and ends at the boardwalk on a beach, Collins has no problem taking the reader on that small journey.

Again, there were quite a few poems that did not strike me in any way and disappointed me. However, the few that did strike me, stuck with me. So in the end, I would say that Aimless Love is a fairly good compilation of new and old poems by Collins. It is something I would recommend to the frequent poetry-reader.

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