This may sound a little bah-humbuggy but the clichéd, vacuous claptrap masquerading as life-changing advice that people are so fond of posting online does my head in. Seriously. Social media has spawned an epidemic of saccharine sayings that are shared and reshared ad nauseum, and some of it is nauseating. So when Rupi Kaur’s ode to the New Year popped up on my news feed today I knew it was time (what better day than January 1) to untether myself from rubbish thinking and properly explore quality alternatives.
I admit I came late to poetry, other than the mandatory high school poets such as Samuel T. Coleridge (In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure-dome decree) and the great T.S. Eliot (Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky) and childhood favourites like Dr. Seuss of course (that Sam-I-am! That Sam-I-am! I do not like that Sam-I-am!) poetry and I rarely crossed paths. But I am rapidly gaining new respect for and appreciation of lyrical prose. Partly, I owe credit to my literary theory lessons (we studied Sylvia Plath & Bob Dylan) as well as to a Chinese poet (and fellow Masters student) named Stephanie, to my Indian friend Sanjay, and to my son who chooses the most beautiful poetry for me.
My favourite Christmas gift this year was Rupi Kaur’s milk and honey. Rupi is a 24 year old Indian-born Canadian poet whose work is stunning in its powerful simplicity. Ironically, considering my distaste for social media banality, she is known in some circles as an Instapoet with more than 800,000 fans. I have milk and honey by my bed and read a few pages each night before I sleep. Rupi is a star. Also, she loves mint chocolate chip ice-cream, the greatest flavour ever invented. Stracciatella is pretty good too.