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COLUMN: Rupi Kaur brings a new book with the same poetry


Keilah Johnson practices her part of "To Do List After Break-Up" from the poetry book "Milk and Honey" by Rupi Kaur last spring. Kaur recently released a new book of poetry called "The Sun and Her Flowers." Rose Bythrow Buy Photos

Welcome to chapter 11 of the book column. Many readers, especially young women, have probably heard of Rupi Kaur and her poetry books, “Milk and Honey" and "The Sun and Her Flowers."

If you aren’t exactly sure who or what I’m talking about, just log on to Twitter or Instagram. Someone you follow has inevitably posted a picture of their favorite page. 

Kaur recently published "The Sun and Her Flowers." The book focuses on love throughout all five of its chapters. This publication has brought my contentions with "Milk and Honey" back to the surface. 

I don't understand why so many people think "Milk and Honey" is good poetry.

I am a lover of poetry. I admire poets, because I lack the necessary skills to piece together a beautiful poem. I have tried and failed many times, so my poetry is locked away far from the public eye. 

My favorite poet is T.S. Eliot. I have read one of his most famous poems, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” dozens of times. 

Kaur uses her poems to discuss various trials of life and heartaches. For example, "Milk and Honey" is split into four chapters, each chapter focusing on a different aspect of life. Many of the poems share their pages with ink drawings that give a visual representation of some image from the poem. 

Personally, my biggest problem is with the images. Poetry should be able to speak for itself enough so that it paints a picture in the reader's mind. They shouldn’t need a physical drawing to add to the content of what they’re reading. 

It also bothers me that Kaur’s poems, however poetic sounding they can be, are really just obvious thoughts about feminism and mainstream ideas about self love. Many of her thoughts aren’t profound or original, but they sound nice. 

A quote from one of her poems says, “and here you are living despite it all.” 

Yes, obviously. 

People understand life is hard, but most of us move on with our days anyway. Kaur’s one sentence, with no punctuation, and no capital letters does not move me to think in a new way about how I could improve my life or think differently about it. Kaur is only stating a fact. 

Unfortunately, Kaur is not alone in writing these obvious yet pretty-sounding verses. Many social media accounts known for posting short poems or pictures from poetry books are spouting much of the same content. 

The goal of these poems seems to be how many likes and posts they can get on Instagram. It is a disgrace to poetry whose real aim is self-reflection. 

If you don’t finish a poem and have to put down the page to take a deep breath, then the poem has not achieved the goal of poetry. Of course, this is just one bookworm’s opinion. An opinion apparently in opposition to most of the "Milk and Honey"-obsessed internet. 

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