The answer is modern poetry. The solution is modern poetry. The solution will always be honest art. I have heard so many arguments, so many opinions, so many variations of different people saying different things, but what it comes down to is a phenomenon is happening around us.
I am not here to publicly scrutinize another writer. I do not bash or bully other writers for enjoyment, or to seek some sort of strange negative attention. I am here, however, to publicly scrutinize the occurrence that is in the process of changing poetry and what it entails. I am here to publicly scrutinize the style of poetry that largely consists of self-help advice and mantras we have all been told and heard of, even in passing conversation. I am here to scrutinize the “advice” writers are being given to change their style, silence their voice, and blatantly imitate another.
Some may not even realize this, but many have experienced it firsthand. Publishers, literary agents, and even readers have now started to encourage writers and poets to “be more like Rupi”. Writers are even being told that to be successful, they should do this. That they need to. That they should adopt Rupi’s style. That they should model their style after the widely successful poet. Negative reviews are appearing for authors simply because their book “is nothing like Milk and Honey”.
It needs to stop, for so many reasons. I will not, and would not, ever criticize Rupi as a person, or her body of work in general. First of all, I have never read the book. I have not read enough of her work to speak on this. I will, however, speak about the style of writing and what you are asking of other modern poets, because quite frankly, it is pissing them (or should I say us) off.
This style of poetry, in my opinion, and many others, is so widely popular because of the universal themes and nature of the pieces. Something even as simple as “love hurts” could gain an incredible reaction from thousands of people (this point has been proven in an online experiment, meant to elicit responses on simplistic pieces with universal tones; the author in question gained thousands of followers posting such pieces, in an extremely short amount of time). Do I think people should write such things and slap their name under it? Not really.
How can one take credit for lines that we have been told during breakups, during motivational speeches, during dinner? Does this mean I do not like the style? No. I simply do not read it. I enjoy work that shatters the ground beneath my feet and makes me feel something genuine, something honest. Does this mean I do not support anyone who writes in such style? No, absolutely not. I encourage every single writer to write what they need to say. Does the style offend me? No. Does it make me angry? No. Does it make others angry? …Maybe.
Are they wrong for being angry? I’m not sure. Does this style really define poetry though? Some say it isn’t even poetry at all.
The style of work is not what bothers me. What bothers me, is that not only are the “gatekeepers” of the literary world encouraging other writers to adopt this style, but so are the readers. This style simply does not define modern poetry, I’m sorry, but if this is what you are borderline-demanding from modern writers, then what will the future hold for modern poetry? Is it right to suggest to other writers to quiet their own voice, and model their work after another? This would only produce imitation, cheap, dishonest work. And in the end, it would not be art. It would be fraudulent.
To the writers who are disheartened by emails, reviews, responses, critiques, and advice from publishers, agents, and readers, all telling them that to be successful this is the style they need to adopt, please, never lose your voice. Always write honestly. Without voice and style we will never move forward artistically. Without individuality, self-expression, style, and voice, we will never progress. Art will never progress. Literature will never progress.
and every book
will be the
have read this
and you will miss
all the voices
In short: Encourage growth. Encourage voice. Encourage something fucking different. Something groundbreaking. They say to never compare yourself to others. I say to stop comparing us to her.