Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“my heart woke me crying last night
how can i help i begged
my heart said
write the book.”
milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.
This is one of those books that appeared on my radar because of all the positive comments about it. I don’t often read poetry, despite enjoying it and being a poet myself, so I just had to check this collection out and see if it is as good as everyone says.
Before reading, I expected short poems in the fashion of e. e. cummings (one of my favourite poets) that would knock me sideways. I wasn’t knocked sideways, but I was moved many different ways. There wasn’t a single moment that my head wasn’t full of thoughts that these poems evoked.
The book is divided into four sections: the hurting, the loving, the breaking, the healing.
One thing that I personally love about poetry, is its ability to put succinctly and accurately, feelings that are so wild and all over the place. A poem has the power to present our feelings back at us on the page, like a mirror. When we read a poem, we not only consider the person who wrote it, but we consider how the poem affects us, and how we relate to it.
‘the hurting’ shocked me. I didn’t realise what the subject matter was going to be when I began reading. This chapter was read mostly with wide eyes, and the tips of my fingers on my bottom lip. My attention was captured, and I couldn’t help thinking of the abuse of the writer, and how it eventually lead to the words I was reading on the page.
‘the loving’ was the opposite to the first chapter. It was welcome and it proved that even if you have experienced hurt, you can still find love in all its forms. You can endure physical and emotional pain, and still emerge and go on to feel physical attraction, lust, emotional and erotic sensations with another. Personally, I couldn’t relate entirely to this, and therefore didn’t engage in it as much, but nevertheless I felt that those words, and the nature of the poems needed to be included straight after the pain of the first chapter.
‘the breaking’ was something I needed to read today. A relationship I’ve been in ended yesterday, and it wasn’t myself who ended it. Which meant that this third chapter really spoke to me. Some parts I related to more than others, but by this point I had a feel for the process the poems were taking the reader through. I realised how they worked as solace for the writer, but also for the reader who might be in need of some quiet, well-chosen words to bring them out of heartbreak.
‘the healing’ was by far my favourite section. A lot of the messages are ones that I have slowly been filtering into my life and learning from. They are messages that I can never hear too many times, as they are always relevant and always needed. This chapter was the most inspirational and motivational one for me, and were the kind of poems and messages I would have liked to written. I felt a certain kinship with the sentiments contained within the last quarter of the book.
This is a quick read, and although I didn’t get over emotional (I didn’t cry, or feel anything extreme) I did have chills at one point, and moments of excitement and revelation at other points. A handful of the poems really moved me and made me want to share them, but as a collection, this book is beautiful and has many strong messages contained within.
Some of the poems are very simplistic, and might look like they took no thought at all to write. But when it comes to poetry, every single word counts. No word is placed unintentionally, so although this book contains poems that only take a few seconds to read, they all form a companionship that in turn builds a story. The story of the writer’s journey, and how we can all survive the darkest of times, if we just dare to love, look around us, and to allow ourselves to heal.
Read this for its ability to help you, even if you don’t feel you need it. Read it for inspiration, and to experience poetry that requires more feeling while you read, and lots of thinking afterwards.
The best thing I learnt about this book is that it was originally self-published, and it was more about the writing as a means to achieve healing, and for the book to be evidence of survival and to go on to help others.
Also, if you’re female, you’ll find parts of this book make you want to shout, ‘YES. 100% YES!’
Link to the book on Goodreads: