This was originally shared as an exclusive sneak peak in the first poetry issue of Mailbox Eulogies a week ago. To join, click here.
There’s no doubt that Ms. Kaur has overcome a lot in her years and her writing does pack a bit of a punch. But, I found that her style was a little shallow and distracting at times. Let me elaborate.
The first section was the worst, involving graphic details of being abused and molested by strangers and extended family members. This was triggering to the point that I needed to take actions to calm down before sleeping.
Further into the book, she discusses love and desire. She speaks in metaphors about masturbation, setting the world on fire with lust, using tongues to write poetry between the legs, etc. Even her line drawings were somewhat graphic in places, like fingers dripping with honey. But then when the f-word finally makes an appearance, she blocks it out with asterisks. I found that to be rather odd, but accepted it and moved on.
Her writing style doesn’t include capitalization, punctuation other than periods, or even strategic line breaks where pauses would be found naturally. A couple poems needed to be reread in order to learn the meaning. A couple pieces were somewhat complicated, requiring some time to decipher the meaning.
The rest were almost too simple. I often find that poems that can have more than one meaning, depending on how the reader interprets it, is more powerful that a shallow line that says only one thing with no other depth or nuance to it.
She tended to overuse metaphors, like setting something on fire with anger or passion, and it seemed like she included too many references to honey just for the sake of tying in with the title.
This book was good, but it wasn’t fantastic, and I wasn’t blown away by it, but considering her heritage as a Punjabi woman and that she’s set out on her own and made a life for herself is inspiring enough, especially if what she wrote was common for Punjabi families.
Bottom line is that her words were triggering, shallow, and often contradictory, but powerful enough to send a one-pointed message.
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© Sarah Doughty