The Con publishes two poems from, Collective Amnesia (Uhlanga Press) the highly-anticipated debut collection from Koleka Putuma, winner of the 2014 National Poetry Slam Championship and the 2016 PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize. Putuma’s powerful exploration of  blackness, womxnhood and history marks her out as a vital voice in the contemporary South African poetry scene. Collective Amnesia may be purchased via EFT and mail order from nick@uhlangapress.co.za. Visit http://uhlangapress.co.za for more poetry, information and updates.

 

 

BLACK JOY

 

We were spanked for each other’s sins,

spanked in syllables and by the word of God.

Before dark meant home time.

 

My grandmother’s mattress

knew each of my
siblings,
cousins,

and the neighbour’s children’s morning breath
by name.

 

A single mattress spread on the floor was enough for all of us.

 

Bread slices were buttered with iRama
and rolled into sausage shapes;
we had it with black rooibos, we did not ask for cheese.

 

We were filled.

 

My cousins and I would gather around one large bowl of umngqusho,

each with their own spoon.
Sugar water completed the meal.

 

We were home and whole

 

But
isn’t it funny?
That when they ask about black childhood, all they are interested in is our pain,
as if the joy-parts were accidental.

 

I write love poems, too,
but
you only want to see my mouth torn open in protest, as if my mouth were a wound
with pus and gangrene
for joy.

 

 

MEMOIRS OF A SLAVE AND QUEER PERSON

 

I don’t want to die with my

hands up
or
legs open.

 

 

Main Photo: The cover of Collective Amnesia by Andiswa Mkosi

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