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Collective Amnesia

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  324 ratings  ·  45 reviews
This highly-anticipated debut collection from one of the country's most acclaimed young voices marks a massive shift in South African poetry. Koleka Putuma's exploration of blackness, womxnhood and history in Collective Amnesia is fearless and unwavering. Her incendiary poems demand justice, insist on visibility and offer healing. In them, Putuma explodes the idea of autho ...more
Paperback, First Edition, 112 pages
Published March 2017 by uHlanga
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Average rating 4.49  · 
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Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read and reread and loved so much poetry in high school, then I don't know what happened. Mostly read dead white men but also some poignant works by South African poets on Apartheid.
Haven't been giving poetry the attention it deserves since, and I know I'm not the only one who can't remember when or how their relationship with poetry began fading away.

Last year during the best book fest in the world, the Abantu Book Festival of course, I got to experience this young and bewitchingly smart poe
Nicole Scavino
Favourite Part:

14 |

To be honest,
I am terrified of lovers who come without baggage
Where do you come from?
Where have you packed your stuff?
Where did you leave it?
Why is it not here?
What are you hiding?

11 |

I want to stop
slaughtering myself

and calling you
the sacrifice


Reflexive. Nothing has been forgotten.
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's not every day that I get offered complimentary copies by publishers and I am mighty glad that it had to be this one.

I've watched a few YouTube videos of Koleka Putuma's and I was in awe of her powerful delivery. Reading a collection of her work is a hundred times more powerful. The poetry is grouped into 3 lots of very uncomfortable works. These are not syrupy let-me-count-the-ways type of poems. These are not sonnets, limericks nor haikus.

There are no forms, rhymes nor defined stanzas. Th
Puleng Hopper
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book of poems must be read with mind and book open simultaneously . Putuma expresses interesting , thought provoking and emotive viewpoints on death, Christianity, misogyny, land, race, homophobia , rape, education , God, alcohol abuse, Mandela and many more. The titles of her poems are not obvious. They are out of the box kind of stuff. Her poems are easy to read, especially for people who are not poetry inclined.
Kakstad, Hand Me Downs, Growing Up Black And Christian, On Black Solidarity,
Sipho Lukhele
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I not really a poetry fan and I loved this book. The language is accommodating and most of the themes I can relate to. Some of the poems are less than five lines yet fully packed and will get leave you thinking.

Koleka is an important voice and is gifted!
Nora Kirabo
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book made me weep and somehow consoled me simultaneously. This book felt like a gospel to keep returning to.
Francine Maessen
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, feminism
First I thought, not this again. Political poetry just doesn't work for me most of the time (yes, I know this comes from a place of privilege but I'm talking about esthetics now).

Then I thought, wait, this is actually becoming pretty good.

Then Putuma started writing less political and more personal and I had my doubts about that (personal poetry tends to only become good when it reaches some point of universality, I think, and that can be hard when writing really personal).

Then those poems turne
M. Ainomugisha
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“I don’t want to die with my
hands up
legs open.”
- Koleka Putuma

Collective Amnesia is a black South African memoir and album of poetries that speaks to and about the silences endured from womxnhood, blackness, religionism, colonialism, traditionalism and lesbianism.

“Her incendiary poems demand justice, insist on visibility and offer healing.” - as per official praise to KP for continually elevating our poetic history as black Africans.

The cryings, the rejoicings, the angers and the voicings in
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Here is a review by Lorraine: ...more
Feb 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book of poetry is illustrative, powerful, and something I will return to to read again.
Zvikomborero Blessing
It doesn’t even make sense to mark this book as read, as in finished, it’s the type of book I will for a long time be “currently reading” (but I have to meet my goodreads reading challenge so its now read)

I have not read or listened to a lot of poetry, just occasionally moved by the popular ones, so this was a great “introduction”.
The poems are gentle, even though they are addressing difficult topics.
The poems read like she sat in my jumbled up brain organised my thoughts and selected the most b
Anh Nguyen
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Koleka Putuma’s poetry collection titled “Collective Amnesia” is effortlessly written while painstakingly revealing intimate realities faced by black, queer womxn bodies in post-Apartheid South Africa. Her thematic poems underscore contradictions within conservative Christianity, and question the hetero-patriarchal normative that is derivative of Eurocentric colonialism. Her survivorship through traumas is evident in every page, such as growing up in her father/pastor’s home while masking her se ...more
Callan Garber
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sandisiwe Magadla
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtqiap
I easily went into this knowing it would be a full five stars. Yes, I did have a hint of doubt at some point but it was immediately gone by the time I started reading it. I've had the fortunate of hearing Putuma read and her poems command attention. The title, "Collective Amnesia" immediately grabs attention. What is this "Collective Amnesia" Putuma speaks about? Being South African, I had an idea. A common idea that we all share as South Africans that something is wrong or offbeat. By calling i ...more
Onyishi Uju
Sep 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Collective amnesia is a poetry collection that explores the South African Black, queer and womxn experience. The poems are divided into three parts: “Inherited Memory, “ Buried Memory,” and “Postmemory,” which take the reader through Putuma’s life from childhood to present. She writes about the traumas she's experienced and the struggles and complications of being a Pastor’s child while being queer. In addition to the more personal poems, Putuma also explores the politics and history of South Af ...more
Nyakallo Maleke
Putuma's writes with a tone, prose, a silence and a simplicity that is direct but also detailed with intricate sentiments, metaphors and complexities that are embedded within and experienced by a woman who, by context of the social categories and differences constructed by a cis heteronormative society she cheekily unfolds the complexities and impacts of what it means to be a black /queer/ woman in South Africa, navigating between religious upbringings, navigating between space and ways of defin ...more
Oct 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Only 4 stars bc I'm not really into poetry, but this was a nice collection of poems.

They were critical, personal, heart-wrenching, confronting and gave unique insights and universal hardships for a person that is on the 'minority' side of the intersectionality scale.

Collective Amnesia takes the bull of collective, convenient forgetting by its horns and is an unapologetic eye-opener.

It also feels like a battle song in some parts: the revolution is coming, and we (people of color, women/womxn, a
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Totally totally amazing book. A definite recommended poetry book, not to give anything away but it covers all aspects of life and makes you think and also questions the cultural and social conventions that we have constructed for our survival. From life, relationships, religion, sexual orientation, apartheid, the land issue (yes that one) and so many other areas, this book visit them all through the lense of poetry and story telling. GET BOOK. READ THIS BOOK. INTERNALISE AND UNDERSTAND THIS BOOK ...more
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, poetry
These are not poems you read but poems you feel and experience. One made me burst into tears and many other had me raving. So good and so honest, it cuts right through all imperialist-white supremacist-capitalist-patriarchal-bullshit. I'm a fan. I've already read most of these poems twice and I know I will turn to them again and again. Thank you Koleka Putuma ...more
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was the first book of poetry I’ve ever read. I picked it up during a trip in Johannesburg. I especially enjoyed the poems: No Easter Sunday for Queers, Coming Home, 21 Ways of Leaving, Promise Land, Water, and 1995: A Love Poem.
Patrick Al-de Lange
Certain of these poems hit me like a brick in the face.
Certain of these poems I couldn't recite to my partner without choking back tears.
Some of these poems gave me an insight I didn't have before into black South Afrika.
All of these poems should be read.
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
I've been looking for this book everywhere, I had such high expectations after reading rave reviews. The first 3 pieces are really good, reincarnation was my favourite.
I don't care too much for love/heartbreak poetry so the rest of the book was just o.k.
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Engaging with memory, love(rs), trauma, religion, and justice as a queer Black woman in contemporary South Africa, Putuma's Collective Amnesia offers a collection of gorgeous poems that demand multiple readings, ones full of care. ...more
Mac Samora
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As one who is consistently in pursuit of authors who examine the African narrative, Putuma is the poet I never knew I need in my life. Granted the African experience is broad if anything, but Putuma's poetry book portrays the sameness in those experiences. There's a poem for everyone. ...more
Bjørn Treumer
Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow awsome book, very powerful poetry and it hit me hard in a good way. Its a MUST, read it now. I have read it in Danish and English. I preferred the English version.
A book that I will read again and again
Kathleen Ebersohn
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Utterly stunning. Koleka Putuma speaks frankly and uses words to demand justice. Her poetry is devastating, beautiful and necessary. I intend to buy this book many times and for many people.
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very interesting & moving conclusion to my visit to Cape Town. I suspect I'll read it a few more times over the next few years. ...more
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best poetry books I have read my entire life. The words are so well written that they stay in your bones forever
Aug 12, 2019 added it
Loved every moment reading this book.
Victoria Peechatt
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The closest collection of poetry I've read to me, my time, and my words. References to religion, pop culture, and the connected world ...more
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