Book Reviews

The gentle prick of “soft thorns”

“But a fantasy in real life

Is also known as a lie”
P. 13
soft thorns by Bridgett Devoue is a collection of poetry that deals with the related themes of love, pain, heartbreak, as well as the theme of “self”. The book is divided into five sections: bleed, love, scar, learn and heal, and all these sections carefully amalgamate romantic ideas with the peripheral theme of the self. While many of these poems are beautiful and incisively aphoristic, the most beautiful theme explored in this poetry collection is definitely the one of “the self” or “selfhood”. (How many times did I say self?)
The exploration of themes like love, heartbreak, and pain are considered trite and one would be quite used to reading poems on these themes, but the theme of the self is what really makes this collection of poems quite unique and idiosyncratic of this particular poet. This is, as the immortal Aicha Amin once said, her “particular brand of crazy”. Another effective theme that makes this collection seminal to the canon of the “Instagram poets” is that of mental illness. The poet talks about this particular theme with a kind of candor and honesty that is rarely seen in longer poetry. Talking about mental illness (specially Anorexia) enhanced the beauty of her poetry. For anyone raised in the generation that has extensively talked about mental illness, this collection of poetry is indispensable to their understanding of eating disorders, the aspect of mental illness that is not spoken of as often as depression. However, themes like love and pain are explored in ways that cater to the audience, and this leads to a kind of an edifice.
This is the poetry you might be inclined to avoid (well, unless you like trite).
 There is also the fact that many of these poems are far too reminiscent of milk and honey. While it is harsh to say that the poet has merely imitated Rupi Kaur, it is certainly clear that she has emulated the famous poet, but this adds to the beauty of her poems. soft thorns can be seen as a revisitation of milk and honey, reimagining the ideas that are explored in the bestselling poetry collection. However, there are too many times when this book is too much like milk and honey. Too much. too. much.
 The poems, though minimalistic, do not fall flat. There is always a punch, an epiphany, in these poems. For someone looking to read what is already in his mind, these are the perfect set of poems, and the brevity of these poems makes them irresistible. However, there is a certain lack of poetic quality. These poems often read like mere aphoristic statements. These ideas might seem to contradict each other, but that is Bridgett Devoue for you, a beautiful dichotomy.
Overall, I would rate this collection 3 out of 5 stars. It is certainly better than the sun and her flowers, but there is a lot that could be delineated more effectively.

Sole Survivor of “the sun and her flowers”

Unlike its precursor, the sun and her flowers by Rupi Kaur is not painted in black. The cover is pale white and minimalistic, and and it is a good metaphor for this book because the sun and her flowers is more or less the paler version of Rupi Kaur’s first poetry collection, milk and honey. 

They say success breeds imitation, but who knew that Rupi Kaur’s greatest imitator is Rupi Kaur. The thematic division of the five processes is akin to the one seen in milk and honey, but that is the beautiful part of the collection. The division of the poems into wilting, falling, rooting, rising and blooming shows Rupi Kaur’s particular brand of poetry, and it is a rather intriguing element in the book. If you thought this is all that this collection has in common with her previous one, you are wrong.
The poetry is exactly the same. And I don’t mean the themes are the same. I mean all of it. The ideas explored as well the ways in which they are explored are exactly the same as in milk and honey. It is frustrating because it seems like Rupi Kaur has gone from finding her voice to pandering to the masses.
The poems seem an extension of a single work. They are fragmented by the poet’s need to cater to the demands of an increasing fan base. If I had a book that says “I need to know that I am beautiful” in a hundred different ways, this would be it. This is not to say that there is something inherently wrong with reiterating the same idea again and again, but it isn’t surprising if reading this book becomes a tedious task after a point. It becomes a drag, and the voice of reason raises its ugly head to convince you to stop reading.
I feel like this book is a 2 out of 5. Even the two points that I gave were for the celebration of the traditional Rupi Kaur verse as well as the wonderful illustrations, but have no doubt, the verses in this poetry collection pale in comparison to what you have read in milk and honey.
If there is a nerd hell, Rupi Kaur is in it.