Koleka Putuma’s New Poem is an indictment on South Africa

Every three hours, a woman is murdered in South Africa according to official statistics, with as many as 3000 having lost their lives in 2018 alone.

Koleka Putuma is no stranger to these shameful statistics or uncomfortable conversations.

Controversial Poems such as “No Easter Sunday for Queers”, “Coming Home” and “Suicide” are an indication of her resolve to address the unconventional.

And she does so without fear or favour.

Her newest poem, “Every Three Hours” is in line with her fearless approach to telling uncomfortable stories.

The poem speaks about the rate at which women are murdered in South Africa, the lack of autonomy, safe spaces, effective policing and failing justice system, all of which have little regard for the bodies and lives of South African women.

Published on the Johannesburg Review of Books, an excerpt of the poem reads as follows:

*Every 3 hours, one of us does not make it

this country hangs our dignity at half-mast.
waves our bodies as lessons to be learnt.
as moments that should teach us something.
as modules. tests. experiments.
my existence is not for your teaching
to dislocate my mother’s throat six feet under
and compensate her grief with scholarships and amended policies.

policies that have gathered dust before they have even been drafted.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

Koleka Putuma is an award-winning poet, playwright and theatre director. Her bestselling debut collection of poems, Collective Amnesia (2017), has taken the South African literary scene by storm and is in its ninth print run.

It has also quickly been prescribed at South African universities, as well as at Gothenburg University in Sweden. It was recently awarded the 2018 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry.

It has been translated into Spanish and released in Madrid by Flores Rara. A German translation is forthcoming from Wunderhorn Publishing House later this year, and a Danish translation will be published by Rebel With a Cause in Denmark in 2020.

Source: Okay Africa & Johannesburg Review of books
Image: Africa Poetry Book Fund
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