THE SUN AND HER FLOWERS by Rupi Kaur | Review

Recently I read this Guardian article by Priya Khaira-Hanks that speaks about the controversy surrounding Rupi Kaur as an “instapoet” who has supposedly lowered the bar when it comes to the quality of publishable poetry. Kaur’s poetic style is often parodied with the intended implication being that anyone could write such simple, mundane lines. Despite this criticism, Khaira-Hanks asserts that Kaur presents an important and underrepresented voice in our modern world of poetry, saying at the end of the article:

As a young woman of colour in a world where white, male delectations are treated as the definitive barometer of taste, Kaur speaks a truth that the literary establishment is unlikely to understand. Even the most sincere critique of her work can slide from healthy debate into vicious attack at the turn of a page. But to read Kaur’s success as an omen of the death of poetry would be to unfairly dismiss writing that contains bravery, beauty and wisdom. Frankly, the literary world is saturated with white male voices of dubious quality. Kaur’s poetry should be given the same freedom to be flawed.

After reading Kaur’s second published poetry collection titled The Sun and Her Flowers, I’m inclined to agree with the Guardian article. Kaur’s poems are not perfect, yet I believe that is precisely the point: they are not perfect and neither are those who read them. I admire Kaur’s poetry not because it demonstrates a mastery of poetic form or follows conventional poetic traditional; rather, I keep returning to her words because they’re true. Genuine. Raw. Honest. Real.

Kaur once gave a TEDtalk called “I’m Taking My Body Back” in which she discussed how she began writing poetry as a means of survival in the tumultuous aftermath of abuse. Listening to her speak about her trauma adds another layer of depth and emotion to her work. Suddenly those short, seemingly simple snippets of verse (“what is stronger / than the human heart / which shatters over and over / and still lives”) take on greater meaning and significance in the context of someone’s actual experiences. I know that I find solace and comfort in her words because they are so undeniably human in their capacity to feel. Those moments of clarity when you finally feel as though someone else understands what you’re going through are abundant in Kaur’s work– perhaps this is why readers continue to support this (to use her flower analogy) blossoming young poet.

At times The Sun and Her Flowers so closely resembles her first collection Milk and Honey that I probably would only be able to recognize a handful of poems by sight from each. I would have liked to see a little bit more experimentation with form (more than the long paragraph poems); however, I did appreciate the vivid flower analogy that ties the entire collection together quite nicely. This collection felt repetitive to me, especially following Milk and Honey. Personally, I hope that she branches out a bit more if she publishes a third collection in the future.

Overall, Kaur’s The Sun and Her Flowers is an emotional, beautiful, thought-provoking collection of poetry. Although Milk and Honey remains my favorite of her collections, I nevertheless look forward to reading whatever poetry she continues to share with us readers in the future. I would highly recommend this collection even if you haven’t read anything by Kaur before!

What are your thoughts on The Sun and Her Flowers or any of Rupi Kaur’s other poetry? Have any recommendations for other poets I should check out? Let me know in the comments section below!



22 thoughts on “THE SUN AND HER FLOWERS by Rupi Kaur | Review

  1. I loved her first book Milk and Honey because it was simple and easy to understand….I have struggled a lot with poetry but I would say this instapoet got me started with poetry…but still when I came across the news that she was being accused of plagiarism I researched about it and I was disappointed as somehow I found those allegations to be true

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  2. I completely agree with this. I don’t think the actual poetry is great – it is very simple, almost feels like a flowing meditation. However, what she had to say is powerful, and many are listening. I love the female empowerment. I’m not sure I would even call this poetry.. just the writing form that seems most natural for her to express herself.

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  3. I’m just about to publish a blog about Kaur, as well. I loved The Sun and Her Flowers, despite the fact that Kaur kind of drives me a little crazy (I cannot stand to watch her perform her poetry, haha). I think she’s doing something really important, though: bringing poetry to the mainstream.

    Poetry is so incredibly snobby and insular. It is, by and large, inaccessible to most people (even incredibly literate people). It has to be seen as a positive for someone to come along (let alone a woman of colour) and tear down those walls a little bit. More power to her.

    I agree, the collection got pretty repetitive. But much of what was there hit my SO hard. To tears, even. I was shocked.

    Side note: great post 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you!! You make a great point about Kaur’s ability to bring poetry more into the public eye. Many of my friends recently starting reading more poetry precisely because of their interest in Kaur’s writing. We need more writers like her! 🙂

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  4. I haven’t read her poetry, but I think the criticism she’s attracting could be a sign that she’s actually doing something quite artistically interesting! Sometimes you have to bend the rules to say something new.

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  5. I loved both collections, but I can agree that her first was my favorite. It just felt like more of those poems resonated within me. However, I did find a nice handful of poems I liked in each book. I left my poetry analyzing days behind me after I finished college, and am much happier now that I can just read them to enjoy and to experience the emotional journey while I read.

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    1. I can definitely relate to the relief of not always having to critically analyze everything you read… my term just ended for winter break and I’m really looking forward to more relaxed reading! 🙂

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  6. I didnt realise she had a Ted talk! I love ted talks and I’m always looking for people I’ve heard so yay I’m excited to listen to that asap. I still havent read Rupi’s first book but I’m planning on getting both Milk and Honey and The Sun and her flowers and binging them together. Great review Holly ❤

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  7. I think you gave this a fair review (based on what my experience reading Milk & Honey). I’m a poetry fan, so to me, Kaur’s style is very one-dimensional. There’s nothing there to analyze or unpack or engage with; it’s all right there on the page. In that way, it can be a good entry into poetry for those who are overwhelmed by more complex poems, but I don’t think it deserves the amount of hype it gets.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a really great point: once you get past any emotional connection you have the point, there isn’t really a reason to keep returning to her words to figure out new meaning. The hype monster has definitely worked its magic!


  8. It is, as you ably observe, unfortunate indeed that we have been brought to such a pass that the utter incoherancy of much of these last generations’ “works of note” are yet lauded, while graceful, heart centered statements of upliftment and shared human experience such as these must endure the “denigration” of being perceived as simplistic.

    Liked by 1 person

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