The Sun and her Flowers by Rupi Kaur is an excellent example of how books can evoke the same level of emotion as movies, tv shows, or music.
With movies, tv, and music so readily available, it can be hard to remember the original form of media was books. Authors were the first to string words together into a story in a way that can evoke every emotion thinkable. Before novels were poetry.
Most only associate poetry with Shakespearean sonnets and simple concepts written in complicated prose and complex vocabulary, but confining it to such a rigid box is detrimental to its artistry. Although I've had similar experiences with poetry, I've also had the pleasure of falling in love with poetry. I'm working on my first book, an untitled collection of poems. As any good writer knows, to continue to grow your skills, you must read and constantly write to gather inspiration and learn new ways to manipulate language.
My siblings gave me a couple of poetry books for my birthday. The Sun and her Flowers is the book I started reading on my flight to Puerto Rico. The Sun and her Flowers is Rupi Kaur's second poetry collection, quickly becoming a New York Times Best Selling Book, something I've been dreaming of achieving my entire life.
The book is split into five chapters – wilting, falling, rooting, rising, blooming – the life cycle of a sunflower. Wilting is about the weight of heartbreak and loss. Falling is about the insecurity and doubt that encompasses your thoughts during the depression. Rooting is about remembering your home and origins, focusing on topics of female infanticide, immigration, and manufactured borders. Rising is about self-healing, sexual self-exploration, and learning to grow out of depressive episodes. Blooming is about love and acceptance to a level of not just surviving but thriving and finding a purpose.
Kaur's poems and illustrations are thought-provoking, simple, and elegant.
Each chapter's thematic energy is palpable. The simplicity of the vocabulary keeps the sun and flower metaphors at the forefront keeping the reader engaged without having to fuss over complex prose.
Occasionally, the poems could be described as oversimplified, but they give space for the longer, more narrative-heavy poems to breathe and have a greater impact. The line drawings help elevate the story. They're not Van Gogh's and can even appear childish, but to me, they help convey the idea that this is not written to make a grand statement but as a stream of consciousness to help process and heal from a depressive episode caused by loss.
Despite its surface-level theme of getting over a relationship, Kaur believes her book is multi-dimensional, and I believe she's right. When I read it, I instantly thought of the potential growth in my career; her words empowered me. I thought about the work and effort my immigrant mother and my determined father put in to ensure my siblings and I could strive for greatness that our ancestors couldn't even have thought to dream. Others in different stages and walks of life may find different meanings in Kaur's words.
Kaur chose the book's title because she became entranced by sunflowers and their ability to rise and wilt, following the sun as if they worshiped it. The initial metaphor consisted of women as the sun, and the flowers are the relationships she has throughout her life. But the metaphor will continue to grow and evolve during each read. The only way to find out what Kaur's poems mean to you is to turn off the tv, remove your headphones and open up The Sun and her Flowers.