Review: Rupi Kaur’s ‘The Sun and Her Flowers’ simplifies the human experience

Rupi Kaur is known for releasing her poetry on Instagram. Her first book of poetry “Milk and Honey” was released in 2014. (Emmaishta/Flickr)

Rupi Kaur tackles universal issues and simplifies the human experience in her poetry. The instapoet’s success is attributed in large to her social media presence. Kaur’s condensed poetry seems to parallel Instagram’s ability to condense our world into a three by six-inch screen.

Her work details immense heartbreak in quick and relatable blurbs that have likely appeared on your smartphone at one point or another. But, Kaur’s latest book, “The Sun and Her Flowers,” provokes mixed feelings as she attempts to tug at the heartstrings of the modern woman for the second time.

Kaur’s first book, “Milk and Honey,” sold 2.5 million copies and remained on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year after its release in 2014. Kaur’s name graced the list again when “The Sun and Her Flowers” debuted in the number one spot. In the age of social media, it is refreshing to see words that celebrate who we are instead of photos that tell us how to look. That celebration of individuality continues throughout “The Sun and Her Flowers.”

“The Sun and Her Flowers” is divided into five chapters. Wilting, Falling, Rooting, Rising and Blooming loosely emulate the five stages of grief. The poet sprinkles mentions of femininity, abuse, acceptance and equality throughout the book. Wilting sticks to the topic of heartbreak:

“you left

and i wanted you still

yet i deserved someone

who was willing to stay”

Her words provide a sense of relief. “The Sun and Her Flowers” gives readers validation in knowing their individual pain is not a unique experience. It’s all very relatable. But, Kaur’s writing and the universal topics she covers in “The Sun and Her Flowers” straddle the line between relatable and eerily familiar. Ambition to discuss such difficult topics is an admirable quality in a poet, but Kaur’s fans sometimes allow her ambition to eclipse the controversy that her work has been met with.

Allegations of plagiarism have been present since “Milk and Honey’s” release. Lack of depth is another common complaint about Kaur’s work. In the age of social media, creativity is sometimes diluted with unoriginality and simplicity, and Kaur’s work may well be evidence of that.

Though simple in nature, Kaur does successfully find beauty and create a sense of community in life’s inevitable pain. Flipping through the pages of “The Sun and Her Flowers” with a cynical and distrusting eye is easy until one simple line really resonates.This leaves readers feeling as though Kaur has gone deep into the depths of their personal lives and put all the heart-wrenching feelings they once felt down on paper.

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