Koleka Putuma

Koleka Putuma is an award-winning poet, playwright and theatre director. Her bestselling debut collection Collective Amnesia is taking the South African literary scene by storm. Published in 2017, the book is currently on its tenth print run. The recipient of the 2018 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry, the collection was named 2017 book of the year by the City Press and one of the best books of 2017 by the Sunday Times and Quartz Africa. Koleka was recently shortlisted as one of four finalists for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative for theatre. Koleka Putuma is the founder and director of Manyano Media, a multidisciplinary creative company that produces and champions the work and stories of black queer artists and queer life.


Koleka Putuma

Photo: Jarryd Kleinhans


Collective Amnesia »

Sound, music and poetry from Koleka Putuma

Sat 6 March - Wed 31 March | (All day) | FREE | StAnza Online


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

A single mattress spread on the !oor 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.

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

Koleka Putuma

From Collective Amnesia (Manyano Media, 2020)