June Book Review: The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

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June Book Review: The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

Caroline Owen

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The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur, 248 pages, poetry

Warnings: mentions of rape and domestic abuse

Themes: self-acceptance, self-discovery, ethnicity and race, immigration, identity, femininity, love, heartbreak, abuse, healing

 

★★★★★

 

REVIEW:

The Sun and Her Flowers (2017) is Rupi Kaur’s second and most recent edition of poetry, published three years after her debut work, Milk and Honey, which was on the New York Times’ Bestseller list for over a year.

 

The Sun and Her Flowers is divided into five sections, each titled after the life cycle of a flower and representing a stage in Kaur’s life: Wilting, Falling, Rooting, Rising, and Blooming. Each segment of the collection explores a different theme pertinent to Kaur’s life through her poetry and smal l hand-drawn illustrations.

 

Wilting describes Kaur’s emotional downfall after ending an abusive relationship and her doubts about re-entering a relationship. Falling details Kaur’s struggle with depression and self-loathing resulting from the separation and her cosmetic bodily insecurities. Rooting includes Kaur’s reflections on and gratitude of her Indian-Canadian immigrant parents for their perseverance and virtues. In Rising, Kaur accepts new love and begins the road to healing and self-acceptance. Finally, Blooming explores Kaur’s newfound strength and self-worth as she begins to see herself above the person previous partners had defined her to be.

 

Below are a few select poems which portray Rupi Kaur’s gift for poetry and incredible fortitude:

 

“where do we go from here my love

when it’s over and i’m standing between us

whose side do i run to

when every nerve in my body is pulsing for you

when my mouth waters at the thought

when you are pulling me in just by standing there

how do i turn around and choose myself” (Wilting)

 

“when death

takes my hand

i will hold you with the other

and promise to find you

in every lifetime” (Rising)

 

“it is a trillion-dollar industry that would collapse

if we believed we were beautiful enough already

their concept of beauty

is manufactured

i am not” (Blooming)

 

PERSONAL INSIGHT:

 

While reading, I was rapt, drawn in by both the layout of each page and the beautiful poems. In The Sun and Her Flowers, similar to Milk and Honey, many of the hundreds of poems are accompanied by a small sketch drawn by the author herself. The drawings are often reflective of the poem they represent, but some are also abstract doodles of Kaur, flowers, hearts, or other symbolic images. Each sketch is made of just a few black lines and pairs well with her writing– in addition to the artwork, Kaur’s poetry is simplistic in aesthetics, bare text against white pages, all lowercase.

 

In my opinion, the simplicity of Kaur’s styling and text (in appearance, not meaning) heighten the deep sense emotion present in her writing. Kaur’s poems are so raw and exposed, not dressed in fancy language or elaborate sketches, which allows the reader to gain an extremely personal view onto the author’s life. Her poems are habitually short in length (for example, a six word poem “you break women in like shoes”) and so contrast obviously against a nearly blank piece of paper. In that method, Kaur’s poems are made the center of attention on the page, incredibly important and visible. The use of lowercase letters also contributes to a personal, approachable feel to otherwise “taboo” topics in her writing.

 

The themes present in The Sun and Her Flowers are incredibly important to today’s society, and I believe they can be related to almost anyone. The human experience of pain is universal, although at varying degrees, and has the ability to tie people together through grief and healing. In her writing, Kaur explores many other emotions and topics which are an integral part of human life, and by documenting her experience we are able to gain a greater understanding of the pain others experience and apply her mantra of self-acceptance and love to ourselves.

 

I read every one of the 200+ poems in this collection out of awe for Kaur’s writing but also out of respect; I felt that putting down the book would be a disservice to her personal journey and strength. Throughout the collection, Kaur discusses her experiences with an abusive relationship, rape, mysogeny, self-hatred, depression, and other extremely detrimental situations, of which I admire her ability to overcome. While reading the collection sequentially I witnessed one woman’s transgression from a broken survivor of abuse to an empowered, and motivated advocate for the human condition.

 

I believe Rupi Kaur’s writing should be celebrated as not only literary excellence but as an attestation to human ability to live despite catastrophe. Rupi Kaur’s metamorphasis is proof that through the darkest times, we have the ability to survive and keep going, often to greater circumstances, and her writing is a testament to the resilience buried within every person.

 

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