By Amber Ghei
The Sun and Her Flowers is the long-awaited second collection of free verse poetry (with a small selection of prose) by Rupi Kaur which was successful through it’s YA readership. Much like the first collection entitled Milk and Honey, the second book has been well received by critics and readers, including myself.
The book is divided into five distinct parts which mirror the title linking to the life of a flower. ‘Wilting’ regarding the break-ups, this effortlessly transitions into the ‘Falling’ which delves into themes of sexual abuse and the anxieties of depression. Following this, the ‘Rooting’ speaks on the family and its origins, most specifically the writer’s rapport with her mother. Kaur was an immigrant child who relocated to Canada from Punjab as a young child, however, her parents were rooted to their previous home which meant they were less at ease with the process of moving. Whereas, Kaur found more acceptance and a new home in Canada which perhaps created distance between her and her parents. The penultimate section, the ‘Rising’ discusses the topic of relationships and aims to uplift the mood of the poetry. And lastly, the final chapter ‘Blooming’ concludes with easing ourselves into accepting our own skin.
Generally, the organised nature of the book is quite clever in terms of linking the title and creating a more purposeful read. The overall tone of the poetry shows significance through shifts in mood, for instance ‘Wilting’ and ‘Falling’ are based off themes of melancholy which merge into the latter half of the book that provides a more optimistic outlook on life. This seems tactfully blended together to supply the reader with an extended metaphor of growth and development, much like the symbolism of the flower.
Kaur’s written expression coats every word with sublimity, poise and flawlessness making the collection a transcendent journey of growth and healing that we can collectively relate to. The intimacy of her work echoes courage and the strength of moving forward from the hurting.
The modern world is becoming increasingly fixated with the concept of perfection. But is this not a mirage? It could be argued that perfection is an abstract noun (an intangible concept which a person cannot physically interact with such as touch or feel the noun) so does this not mean it is unattainable? Kaur cleverly strings together the following:
Here Kaur highlights the significance of wanting what you can’t have, we constantly crave more in order to feel satisfied whether it be in our careers, relationships or materialistically. The harsh reality is that we will always long for someone or something, and the sequence will become repetitive and will torment us without any reward or positive outcome, so in actual fact we are at war with ourselves.
Something I have taken away from Kaur’s writing is to be open to the idea of acceptance.
- Accept the friendships that did you wrong.
- Accept the friendships that accepted you even when you drunkenly call or text them at 4am.
- Accept that you are worth more than a voicenote, text message or call.
- Accept that the way he left tells you all you need to know about him and the situation itself.
- Accept your pride and swallow it more time than not.
- Accept the ‘what ifs’ and move onto the ‘what nows’.
- Accept your own company before you let someone else in. As Kaur said in her previous book we are “in the habit of co-depending on people to make up for what we think we lack. Who tricked you into believing another person was meant to complete you when the most they can do is compliment” – self acceptance.
- Accept your crooked smile for what it is.
- Accept your family flaws and all.
- And lastly, accept the good, the bad and the ugl-ay of situations because no feeling is final.
The idea that poetry is this flowery, over complicated and confusing thing should be rethought when reading both Milk and Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers. If we all took time out to just read a few pages we could really open ourselves to the suffering of others and even ourselves through topics of self-harm, depression, anxieties, rape and abuse, heartache and heartbreak. It is so much more than just an ‘instagrammable book’, it is something which can discuss mental health and allow people to realise that ‘the irony of loneliness is that we all feel it at the same time – together’, which will speak volumes in terms of recovery. Kaur’s work will never be exhausted in my eyes, and I hope to see more from herself and other budding poets.