“i want to apologize to all 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”
Milk and Honey (stylized as milk and honey) was first self-published in 2014 by Rupi Kaur, an Indian-born Canadian, the #1 New York Times bestselling author and illustrator. After the book became a runaway success, Andrew McMeel published it under her name in 2015. Since then, this collection of poems and prose has been translated into over 30 languages and has sold well over a million copies worldwide.
At a tender age of 4 years, when Rupi migrated to Canada with her family from Punjab, she was inspired to draw and paint by her mother because of her inability to converse in English with her peers; her mother handed her a paint brush and said, “draw your heart out”, thus sowing the seeds for a fine artist that Rupi has become today.
Milk and Honey is written in Gurmukhi script. Rupi exclusively writes in lowercase and uses only period for punctuation, marking a departure from traditional poetry. She has said that she enjoys the equality of letters and that the style reﬂects her worldview: simplicity and equality.
The book has an enticing black and white color scheme with a matte-finish cover. The simple illustrations and drawings in the book (made by Rupi) elevate her words.
According to her, the title milk and honey symbolizes the resilience of women, who come out of hardships and adversities as smooth as milk and as thick as honey. Historically as well, milk and honey were together believed to possess healing properties and were known as the “elixir of life”.
The book is divided into 4 chapters, each dealing with a different experience – hurting, loving, breaking and healing. Via these four experiences, she has written about a range of universal themes – abuse, love, lust, heartbreak, child-parent relationship, self-love, femininity, fraternity – all of which unanimously resonate with the young and old alike.
“what terrifies me the most is how we
foam at mouth with envy
when others succeed
but sigh in relief
when they are failing
our struggle to celebrate each other is
what’s proven most difficult
in being human”
“father. you always call to say nothing in particular. you ask what i’m doing or where i am and when the silence stretches like a lifetime between us i scramble to ﬁnd questions to keep the conversation going. what i long to say most is. i understand this world broke you. it has been so hard on your feet. i don’t blame you for not knowing how to remain soft with me. sometimes i stay up thinking of all the places you are hurting which you’ll never care to mention. i come from the same aching blood. from the same bone so desperate for attention i collapse in on myself. i am your daughter. i know the small talk is the only way you know how to tell me you love me. cause it is the only way i know how to tell you.”
Even though this book is a quick read and some pages have only simple quotes, one cannot help but sense the honesty and purity of the author’s emotions. Despite being raw, this collection is real, relatable, sublime and full of passion. It will make the reader feel vulnerable because, in their sheer simplicity, these poems manage to address our emotions of brokenness, hurt, hopelessness, loneliness – all of which we keep bottled deep within ourselves.
This book may potentially marinate the reader in their own feelings. Everyone will ﬁnd at least one poem which they can deeply relate to, and wonder in awe over the adroitness of Rupi to mold their feelings into words with such tenderness and care.
Milk and Honey is a good choice for those who are sad, heartbroken, lost and are looking for a soothing, calming and a simple read over a weekend.