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The year 2020 has been pure chaos. For better and for worse, the world we’ve always known is being flipped on its head, and has forced us to come to terms with how we function within it. We, as a society, have quickly normalized the nitty-gritty, and Rupi Kaur’s newest poetry collection embraces these unequivocal current events.
Released on Nov. 17, Kaur’s book, “Home Body,” combines her previous candid style with a close examination of our current realities. Broken into four sections, the book does an excellent job exploring what we can make of adversity, paving the way for healing and empowerment.
The first section, titled “Mind,” contains what Kaur does best. Beginning with recollections of her trauma and personal battles with anxiety and depression, she ends the section with poems of healing and reclaiming her happiness. As someone who has read her previous installments, “Milk And Honey” and “The Sun And Her Flowers,” this was expected. Kaur’s signature style once again combines beautifully with the transparency of her writing, the evident emotions on each page being something I appreciated. However, the timeline of her healing process seemed to be condensed to this one section, which is different from her previous works. Right away I was aware of this change, and was excited to explore new thematic territories moving forward.
Fittingly, the following part, “Heart,” is a section dedicated to the intricacies of love. My biggest takeaway from this section was the exploration of both romantic and platonic relationships, including Kaur’s relationship with herself. I loved that these poems were so multifaceted. Not only did they weave together the delicate nature of romance with the strain they put on self-image, but they also highlighted the importance of having nurturing female figures for support. Everything Kaur has written about love in the past came together in this chapter, symbolically drawing her final conclusions.
The third portion of “Home Body” is where things start to move into new territory. Throughout “Rest,” Kaur condemns the burdens of work, expectations and success, sharing anecdotes of times where she and her family found dedication to their work crippling. She takes a stab at the plague of capitalism and stigmas around working immigrants, later concluding the section with ideas of patience and inspiration. Personally, these poems resonated the most with me. Something that I struggle with is balance and my lack of free time, and I found Kaur’s argument here entirely valid and relatable, much like most of her writings. The universal experiences of not feeling good enough or not having enough time are things that I feel are groundbreaking, and her digestible style makes that entirely clear.
Finally, her fourth section, “Awake,” was not the angle I was anticipating at all, but was more than willing to accept and praise. For lack of a better term, this section was “woke.” In it, Kaur tackles the prejudices against women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Despite their short length, these poems spoke volumes. Kaur comments on how much progress still needs to be made towards equality, and exposes damaging falsehoods like “girl boss feminism” and how it contributes to other oppressive systems. This section was a breath of fresh air. Its clarity left no room for assumptions, and Kaur made her claims point blank. In this genre of poetry, I rarely see such empowering themes and calls to action, and I think that these were the icing on the cake.
Truthfully, I believe this is Kaur’s best work yet. The artful way that she combines her individual experience in life thus far with the bigger picture puts things into perspective for everyone reading, regardless of their unique experiences. I feel that Kaur does a wonderful job attributing the issues she discusses to the conglomerate human experience, and I would recommend this collection to everyone based solely on its grounding effects.