The Sun and Her Flowers
Good poetry should stop us. It should make us think not only about the images and the feelings evoked by the poet’s words but also our own experiences and how they relate to those images and feelings. It should, as former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky once said, be “physical, vocal, intimate, and individual.” Rupi Kaur’s latest collection is none of the above.
The Sun and Her Flowers, a follow-up to Kaur’s first book Milk and Honey, is a vapid, narcissistic, uninspired set of diary entries detailing a romantic break-up, time spent alone mourning that break-up, and then falling in love with someone new, all of which are accompanied by the kind of juvenile doodles often seen in the margins of high school students’ notebooks. This book is not poetry to anyone who knows the definition of the term, but it has been accepted as such in the same way that YA fiction has become popular with women in their 30s and 40s, caught in arrested development, longing for a time when they could be the pretty, brooding girl the hot vampire, or the other tribute, likes best. It is simply inconceivable that this book is considered art, let alone something worthy of appearance on bestseller lists.
While the book is visually pleasing—the binding and paper choices are stunning, as is the cover art—that is where the appeal ends. Ms. Kaur, a 25-year-old who uses Instagram as her primary publishing medium, hasn’t written deep, meaningful poetic work so much as she has become the icon of a generation obsessed with instant gratification and with itself–see Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, etc. That so many young people, and adults, will read this work and think it is poetry is an affront to the art form.
Perhaps, some day, Ms. Kaur will write a book that is beautiful, something lacking in cliché, trite scenarios, and bland language, but that day is not today, and that book is not The Sun and Her Flowers. If, however, you have a young woman in your life who believes her romantic entanglements and angst-ridden musings about them are akin to art, this may be just the right book for her.
Andrews McMeel Publishing