Poetry Review: When No One Is Watching

A big thank you to Odyssey Books for sending me a copy to review.

When No One Is Watching, by Linathi Makanda

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Linathi Makanda’s poetry debut with Odyssey Books is a luminous collection of verse, a meditation on tough topics expressed with grace and wisdom.

Family, masculinity, and women’s expectations and realities regarding relationships take center stage throughout four thematic sections (Love Rising, Love Lost, Internal Uprising, and Hope Rising). Makanda explores how the men and women in her life have made their mark on who she is now, and how their interactions flow into her own experience of both trauma and healing. It follows a journey from initial hope, through innocence lost, and onward towards an eventual reclaiming of power and re-creation.

We are the women whose scents smell like freedom and a fresh start… We are miracle workers./ Writing ourselves back to life / Loving ourselves back to life.

Linathi Makanda, When No One Is Watching

I often find it hard to review poetry, because it’s such a deeply personal genre, both for the writer and for the reader. In verse, the scope of our emotions is condensed into its purest essence, and there can be no looking away. Linathi Makanda makes superb use of language in concentrated doses, to offer a glimpse into how a person loves, suffers, and heals. Lovers of highly intimate poetry will want to have a copy of When No One Is Watching on their shelves, and come back to it again and again.

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