Book reviews: Poetry books encompass feelings of feminist community

Beryl Lenk/For Explore Steamboat
Book review
Courtesy Photo

‘Milk and Honey,’ by Rupi Kaur and ‘New American Best Friend,’ by Olivia Gatwood

When I first heard of “Milk and Honey,” by Rupi Kaur, and “New American Best Friend,” by Olivia Gatwood, I immediately knew I wanted to review both books. I was inspired by April, which is National Poetry Month, and by the well-attended recent women’s marches.

These books encompass many of the feelings shared by feminist communities. If you share their passion, books like these are not to be missed.

Earlier this year, I saw a video of Gatwood performing a poem of hers, and I was instantly in awe. She has sharp delivery in person that translates well on paper. Her book, “New American Best Friend” is a keen collection of her brilliant work. It has something for everyone: humor, anger, love and empowerment, all addressing challenges that accompany the journey through adolescence.

With each page turned, I found myself more enthusiastic. She has provocative titles and subjects that made a smile reach wide across my face. “Ode to my Bitch Face” and “Alternate Universe In Which I am Unfazed By The Men Who Do Not Love Me” are particularly unapologetic and liberating.

Gatwood is a nationally touring poet whose work was featured by HBO and the Huffington Post. She was a finalist at the National Poetry Slam and Women of the World Poetry slam, and she continues to perform at schools nationwide.

“The convenient thing about being a magical woman is that I can be gone as quickly as I came”

While waiting for “New American Best Friend” to arrive at Off The Beaten Path, I read Rupi Kaur’s “Milk and Honey,” a collection of poetry regarding violence, love, loss, femininity and survival.

My first impression is that you are either going to love it or hate it.

The book is split into four sections: Hurting, Loving, Breaking and Healing. Each chapter serves a different purpose and addresses a different subject.

This book is comprised of multi-paragraph poems and one or two sentences that share the page with raw scratch illustrations. In this respect, the book can seem to read like a diary.

I experienced a hodgepodge of emotion from the New York Times bestseller. There were a few poems that left me feeling put off, but they were, no doubt, thought-provoking. I really enjoyed the Loving section of the book. This is where Kaur describes finding the silver lining in life’s bitter moments. She writes, “because there is sweetness everywhere, if you are just willing to look.”

I’ve read this section over and over, and each time, I find myself head-over-heels for new words.

Kaur’s literary performance is a profound masterpiece, a serious and fiercly honest execution of her artwork. For parents, I would suggest reading the first few pages before gifting this to a child.

“Our backs tell stories no books have the spine to carry.”

— Rupi Kaur

These books are available at Bud Werner Memorial Library and Off the Beaten Path.

Beryl Lenk is assistant manager at Off The Beaten Path.

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