‘the sun and her flowers’ by Rupi Kaur

 

If I were to ever have a daughter, this is the book I would like her to grow up alongside. It is wise, it is gentle, but most importantly it is angry.

 

Following the incredible success of Kaur’s first book milk and honey, her second collection of poetry in her trademark minimalist style is an achingly honest record of her experiences as a woman growing and changing in our modern world. Her work focusses on ‘grief, self-abandonment, humouring one’s roots, love, and empowering oneself.’ 

 

Despite the sweet nature of many of the poems, there is a quiet storm brewing throughout the collection, and Kaur’s anger is justified. She covers intensely emotional experiences such as a retelling of a rape scene, lack of consent culture and child abuse, but with such tact and reflective wisdom that the book becomes a meditation on modern culture, all streams of it interwoven, the bad thrown in with the good. 

 

‘you

and i wanted you still

yet i deserved someone 

who was willing to stay’ 

 

Dappled with filigree line drawings from Kaur’s own hand, the volume is split into five sections, each containing poems on that certain theme. In a cyclical yet uplifting way, Kaur’s writing carries readers on a journey through love, loss and desperation, yet soars with hope and light at the culmination of the book. Her definitive confirmation of women’s power nourishes the reader, talking about private experiences which somehow become a very public, very relatable experience. 

 

Arguably her work is at its best when covering love: this is not storybook romance, but intimate, desperate and truthful, human tactility shown at a minute scale, bodily experiences intertwined with snippets of pillow talk conversation. 

 

Kaur’s writing also covers her relationship with her parents and siblings who were born in India but moved to Canada when Kaur was four years old. Her book details the intense commitment and unending trials and tribulations her parents worked through to provide for herself and her siblings. 

 

In a recent TED talk, Kaur gave a speech called ‘I’m Taking My Body Back’ focussing on the theme of sexual violence - a crime committed on a car journey home. She is however resilient to the fact that her poetry (some a response to this event) does not dwell on the violence, but reaches forward, to survival. Kaur’s work also includes a photo-essay on the taboo of menstruation: a woman lying down with menstrual blood spotting through her trousers. This image has been repeatedly reported and removed by ‘community standards’ advocates on Instagram, and Kaur is vocal surrounding the  issues facing women and menstrual taboos. 

 

Kaur has said that of all topics, she likes to focus on empowerment because "it's like becoming my own best friend and giving myself the advice I need.” If you’re to invest in one book of modern poetry this term, let it be this.

a brief review of rupi Kaur's new book:  

'the sun and her flowers'
By Flo Williams

helicon.magazine@gmail.com

© Helicon Magazine 2019

University of Bristol