I own very few poetry collections, but I purchased an ebook version of milk and honey due to the enormous amount of hype surrounding it. It’s been sitting in my Kindle for months and months, but since April is National Poetry Month, I thought now would be the perfect time to finally dive in and see if all that hype is deserved.
Even though I couldn’t give this collection five stars, I do understand the hype. Part of that hype is due to the fact that practically everyone can identify with at least one part of this collection, as it speaks to all parts of relationships, good and bad. There’s betrayal, falling in love, sex, and learning to love yourself. It’s very universal, which appeals to a broad audience.
The collection is told in four parts: The Hurting, the Loving, the Breaking, and the Healing. Part of the reason I’m not giving milk and honey five stars is that there’s nothing new or groundbreaking in the collection. None of it shocked me or provoked me.
I did not enjoy the format of the collection. It’s told in a series of broken sentences, one line poems, and minimalist drawings that feel more appropriate for an Instagram post than a physical poetry collection.
Despite not feeling as though this collection lives up to its hype, I still think it warrants a read, especially if you’re going through a tumultuous relationship. The part titled “The Healing” would be inspiring for someone learning how to love themselves after a rough relationship.
Part of me feels that it was the hype that tarnished my opinion of milk and honey, or maybe I just didn’t read it at that “perfect time” in my life. In the end, I found the collection overrated and unengaging.
Let me preface this review by saying that I’m not very knowledgeable about the poetry world. I’ve read very little of it (unless you count Shel Silverstein) and sometimes the meanings are simply lost on me.
April is National Poetry Month, however, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to experiment a little bit. Since I can name perhaps four poets off the top of my head, I walked to my libraries poetry section and randomly picked a collection that had a pretty cover. Robert Morgan’s Dark Energy is what I walked away with.
As I read through this collection, the main thing that struck me was that it made me homesick for the near decade I spent living in Asheville, NC. I’ve mentioned plenty of times on this blog that I spent most of my twenties living there, and now that I’ve moved away to flatter land I find myself longing for the mountain trails and forests of western North Carolina.
As I read some of these poems, I was reminded of the many, many days I spent wandering trails deep in the woods, among the sounds and scents of the forest. We would go whole days without seeing another person or hearing the sound of a car. For those memories alone I found this collection enjoyable.
After finishing the collection, I glanced at Robert Morgan’s Goodreads’s page, which states that he “was raised on his family’s farm in the North Carolina mountains.” So the feelings it gave me make a lot of sense.
Three of the poems really stood out to me:
“Ancient Talk,” which is about Thomas Wolfe and his appreciation for natural, mountainous areas
“Maple Gall,” a poem that starts out describing tree fungus but ends with the beauty of irregularity in nature
“Love Sleep,” focusing on the sounds and hush of nature at night
I really enjoyed reading through this collection, and many of the poems focusing on nature really resonated with me. That said, there were also many poems that I forgot as soon as I turned the page and that I couldn’t identify with at all. I suppose that’s true for most poetry collections. I can definitely see myself reading more of Robert Morgan’s poetry in the future.