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The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
As a writer and poet I felt compelled to read a recent New York Times Bestseller poetry collection. Especially when ‘The Sun and Her Flowers‘ was voted # 1 in the 2017 poetry genre by almost 36,000 Goodreads followers. And though I really don’t like writing less-than favourable reviews about other writers (after all it’s a community here) truthfully I found the poems and subject matter a bit self-indulgent, disempowering and flimsy.
When I happened upon ‘The Sun and Her Flowers‘ in a bookstore in Iloilo City, I was excited. And even more excited when I saw the cover, ran my hands over the textured paper, flicked through the awesome sketches and the way the little poems sat against all that white space. Aesthetically the book is completely lovely and Rupi Kaur is very, very talented. But that’s where my positive review ends.
As I eagerly began the first of five sections wilting (a metaphor and reference to the life cycle of flowers), I forced my way through pages and pages of whiney “he left me now I’m sad” type stuff. The stuff that I might have sighed out loud in my late 20s. In fact in my 20s and some of my 30s I might have even loved the book, but I just turned 50 eight weeks ago, so disempowering “I cannot be happy if you don’t love me” ‘poetry’ has long since lost its appeal.
For example page 26 …
‘i could be anything
in the world
but i wanted to be his’
This is not a poem I would write out to read over and over.
Rupi Kaur is very a talented writer so I’d love to see her apply her writing and wonderful drawings to something with a little more substance. And though she tackled some meatier subjects in the following sections falling and rooting — depression, rape, immigration — I was left unconvinced. The poems didn’t really pull me in. Perhaps that’s my 50th year kicking in, or maybe it’s all the Syliva Plath and Denise Levertov I read in my teens and early 20s that’s left me a little fussy for imagery that kicks and drags at you.
So to sum up, if you’ve just had the love of your life dump you and you’re mid-way through your Amy Winehouse you could find ‘The Sun and Her Flowers‘ ready to agree with everything you’re feeling. As for me ‘The Sun and Her Flowers‘ has been moved into a pile of books and magazine for visitors to flick through; apart from the pictures I doubt I’ll open it again.
Now I’m off to edit some of my own self-indulgent and thin poems.
You can read my other book reviews here.
PS: love to hear your comments on the book too.
© 2018 Melinda J. Irvine