When No One Is Watching is a compilation of poems about love and the loss thereof, trauma and the dark reflections that come with it. It is a depiction of sides that people don't readily show, sides of vulnerability, insecurity and tiny amounts of hope. One could say it is the result of shedding light into a world of secrecy, escapism, an alternate reality belonging to an alternate version of an individual. When No One Is Watching is the truth in its purest form.
Linathi Makanda is a multidisciplinary artist whose work is fundamentally about facilitating a holistic return to self. Makanda believes in the intersection of holistic healing and language, having published two poetry collections, When No One Is Watching and I Say These Things To Myself, through the Australian publishing house Odyssey Books. Linathi, as an artist, uses fragility with self and others as a sort of necessary device to navigate the world and its systems, as described by her community as one such person whose work has sensitivity at its core.
Makanda's written work has appeared in publications such as Mental Realness Magazine, Forgotten Lands, Poetry Potion, Lolwe, and 20.35 Africa, where she was featured in their New Poet Series. Seasons, a visual that combines elements of poetry and videography, was featured in New Plains Review, an online publication of the University of Central Oklahoma's College of Liberal Arts. Furthermore, this body of work was chosen to screen in the Short Film category at the Lift Off Online Film Festival in the United Kingdom. Nataal Media, The Luupe, Hear My Voice, Drum Magazine, Salamander Ink Mag, and Busboys and Poets are among the platforms she has appeared on and written for. In 2022, Makanda was a part of the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal's Poetry Africa Festival.
Makanda continues to use her work as a contribution to what she believes is an alternate form of generational wealth, one rooted in the idea that our efforts now are creating an eco-system of heritage that is rich with awareness and emotional health.
The poetry of Linathi Makanda is both universal and about searing personal experiences. I think each reader will find something here that particularly resonates for themselves. Often poems can each be read as stand alone experiences whether or not they are linked with others. This compilation cries out to be read as one poem and journey.
The four parts begin with 'Love Rising' and here the poet's thoughts may seem to concern the common enough subject of poems, looking for love and yearning to be wanted for oneself. The poet is young and confident. She trusts in her love and her lover.
'.. I am liberated. Let us join hands on arrival, let us celebrate.'
But even in early pages there are suggestion that this is not going to be about starry-eyed love somehow resolving itself. The poet is already thinking beyond her situation to that of other women.
'My mother never talks about love Only about the men she's lost.'
And she is thinking also about men she has known, especially her father and grandfather. I was intrigued that next to a joyous poem about her lover she places memories of her grandfather, good memories, which will be a contrast to her later bitter thoughts on men.
Now the story evolves into one well known to too many, one of hurt, betrayal and self doubt while struggling to put on a brave front. The poet offers lines about the thoughts people hide tightly within and do not share even with those they trust ( ... 'My mother doesn't know'..). The poems are not complex, the language is the easy rhythm of spoken English, yet time and again Makanda can express the universal feelings of self doubt and insecurity in a few plain words. This question, for instance, asked by all wounded souls, will inform the rest of the book.
Why can't you see me?
In the bitter lines of 'Internal Uprising', we see doubt and hurt rise to anger, anger directed to oneself as much as anyone. As the narrator curls up into depression, her thoughts turn again to where she could surely seek support, her mother. But she cannot ask:
'How do I tell my mother I attract men who do not stay? How do I tell her I attract men like my father?'
In the midst of lines about blaming all on men, she can still see that they are not the whole crux of her turmoil.
'Sometimes these men do not hurt us. We hurt ourselves.'
And then she is taken down and taken very low.
'It smells like it wasn't my fault but it feels like it was.'
At this point, I just stopped reading. I felt I had seen something too private and raw for some reader or other like me to stumble over even in a published book. I picked it up again later because the poet has chosen to express the dark hour known to far too many women, and so it is for knowing.
Because within this book each reader will find lines that resonate with their own memories, experiences and dark hours, I think it is important to know that the last part concerns Hope. The narrator thrashes her way back above chasms of suicidal thoughts by caring about herself and expressing hope through art and poetry for fellow women. She is writing now:
' .. A letter to all the mothers who have daughters that hurt when on-one is watching.'
When No One Is Watching is an emotional journey for the reader and one well worth taking.
So listen: I don’t read a lot of poetry, mainly because I’ve struggled to understand or identify with a lot of what I’ve tried. I can think of just a few poetry collections that I’ve read over the years, and even fewer poems that have stuck with me.
This collection was different. When No One is Watching is powerful and resonating, and although it most certainly wasn’t written about or for me, I felt very seen and deeply connected to many of these verses. Makanda’s words are raw, painful, hopeful…and above all, relatable in a very human way.
This, from Internal Uprising, is an example of verse that really spoke to me:
I am still learning to find a balance between hating men with every fibre in my bones But still wanting to wake up next to the “right” one for the rest of my life.
Just stunning. I’ve read the whole collection three times now, and I keep finding more to love.
Many thanks to the publisher and the (very gifted) author for the free copy I was given in exchange for this honest review.
la mitad de estos poemas fueron hermosos y la otra mitad supremamente mediocres. lástima que la autora haya preferido incluir tantos poemas de relleno en vez de hacer un libro más corto o concentrarse en mejorar las otras ideas que tenía.
Linathi Makanda's poetry is a work of genuine emotion and storytelling. This collection allows for the women who may feel hidden and invisible, to be seen in the light of her poetry.
The poems follow a combination of themes such as love, loss and trauma. They flow like a journey within the four sections through self-discovery and self-love, reflecting back on memories and moments from the past that range from heavy to accepting and learning to praise the person you are.
There are some graphic but striking scenes that I'd advise people to be aware of when reading it, however, every page allows for such emotion to pour from the poetry and impact those who read it.
The sense of pain and emotion is so strong I felt an ache in my heart reading some of the verses and experiences shared within this collection.
Thank you so much to Odyssey books for sending me a digital copy to read and review.
This collection was absolutely beautiful and a pleasure to read, and I definitely recommend others to get their hands on a copy.
Nothing special. This reminded me why i stopped reading poetry a few years ago. Unpopular opinion but... Stringing a few emotional sentences together is not poetry. I need metaphors, structure, a story. Gut wrenching original phrases that create an atmosphere and a feeling.
"How do I tell my mother I attract men who do not stay? How do I tell her I attract men like my father?"
I get it, the bigger story of the poems combined is the one that has the effect. But this type of poetry just... Doesn't do it for me. I don't understand it. Like one of those abstract pieces of art hung on a gallery that tell a deeper story but look cheap on the outside.
This should stay as instagram or tumblr poetry. Just my opinion.
This wonderful book of poetry took my breath away. I'm extremely grateful to the author for sending me an advanced reading copy. This is my honest review.
African author Linathi Makanda has created a brilliant and immersive experience for the reader.
Suddenly we are plunged into the youthful garden of earthly delights, where love is new and full of wonder. This early bliss is fully embodied: All my skin ever needed was you.
But the lover is a woman, and women's experiences with love are fraught. The poems travel from the ecstasy of first love, through the paradise of physical delight, to the eventual and somehow inevitable wretchedness of desertion: she knows that no matter what changes she makes, what delights she offers, that he would still forget me.
Finally, the invisibility of the deserted woman is refuted. I see you. Within the embrace of sisterhood, a sustaining solidarity and resilience is found. We are the women whose scents/ smell like freedom and a fresh start.
Makanda’s mastery of her style ensures a special accessibility and universality to her poetry. The obvious comparison is to the heartfelt fragments of Sappho’s poems, still powerful after more than 2500 years. This book can be read as a verse novel of female experience, and treasured for its insights.
For lovers of all ages, and anyone who has ever loved, and especially those who have loved and lost, this is a new classic.
This book of poetry is amazing - I am not usually one for poetry, but these capture such vulnerability and raw emotion that it’s difficult not to get swept up in it, despite the poems being short and reading almost like fragments. It’s impossible to put down, I read the whole book in one sitting.
The poems centre around love and loss, and I believe at least some parts would resonate with anyone reading. They embody hope and place heavy emphasis on femininity and women’s reactions and desires for love and the traumas that sometimes occur in the searches.
The four sections of poems can easily be linked together to become one woman’s journey, while being incredibly focused on the love and experiences of that section: my personal favourite was ‘Hope Rising’ - showing that there is always room for positivity, empowerment and bettering yourself and your relationships with others after a bad experience.
I would highly recommend this book. Thank you to Odyssey for sending it to me to review.
‘There is no poetry on this page. Just an opportunity for women who have trouble loving themselves to pause for a moment and breathe.’
This book is such an beautiful and evocative celebration of becoming. The way the author navigates pain, happiness, trauma, love is a reminder to constantly trust in the process whilst being your truest self. Great read!
I received a copy of this book thanks to publisher Odyssey Books in exchange for an honest review.
Oh wow. When I was kindly offered this poetry collection to review, I had no idea I would fall in love. Linathi Makanda is insanely talented and this collection broke my heart and stitched it back together. I'm always suspicious of comparisons to other works but this is so similarly tonally and quality-wise to Rupi Kaur that I really have no choice. This poetry collection explores themes of feminism, ownership of bodies, relationships, self-esteem and a whole host of other things all covered in beautiful detail. It is split into four sections: Love Rising, Love Lost, Internal Uprising and Hope Rising. My favourites were the middle two (I'm a sucker for cathartic/melancholy poetry) but all four were excellent.
One thing I really loved was that how Makanda manages to put so much meaning and emotion into so few words. Some of the poems are only a line or two, but these were often the ones that would make me pause and think. These words demand attention, to be reread again and again so you can carry them with you. My favourite poetry is the kind that captures those intense feelings and this collection carried so much emotion.
Any fans of Milk and Honey, please check out this book. Makanda deserves to go far and I cannot wait to see what else she writes. I promise you will not regret it.
WOW OH WOW!! I felt like I was reading her diary, these felt so personal and yet something that needed to heard, needed to be told. Her work is so beautiful. I found this at the right time in my life. A time in my life where I'm hurting, a lot. The poem "Him" poem sparked me to write and get my feelings out. Normally I'm not a fan of long poems but the last two poems had me hooked! Literally sitting on my floor, stuck until I finished.
"I could starve myself Make my skin smell like hers Ooze the demeanor of a deity But I am nothing but a commoner Bearing riches in the form of love My insides could never be warm enough to keep you My riches, not enough to feed you But if you call, I will surrender I will shed and trade my skin to keep you warm Be my master Take me in Make a home out of me"
This is a beautiful collection that should be on every girl and woman shelf, a couple of months ago I read Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur and I've been trying to find something similar ever since. I will go ahead and say that I enjoyed this collection even better. One of the things that I enjoyed is the ability of the author to communicate with the reader and engaged in a way you end up breathing deeply. I was highlighting quote after quote that I definitely plan on revisiting whenever I feel like I need motivation. One of my favorites is: "Find love and art in everything that exists on Earth, including yourself". Overall, I am extremely happy that this little book found me.
My mother never talks about love,Only about the men she’s lost.Them as entities,Never how she saw them in her eyes or the fire they sparked in her heart.Sometimes I want to ask her,Not really to know,Just to see if there are traces of the way I love now, in the way she loved.If we’ve felt the same burns from the same fire.If we’ve loved the same love.
I'm reading Linathi Makanda's When No One Is Watching for the second time (which in itself is something I hardly do) not because it's beautifully written- which it is- but because I found myself wanting to revisit a feeling: ambivalence. This, Makanda achieves carefully by ladening her words with an authentic sense of loss, longing, reaching for distant things and places and a new found hope. Although the journey she takes us on feels really woman-centric (a true testament of the author's pride in herself), Makanda does a great job of not robbing us of the humanity that radiates from any great work of art.
"I'm writing for you all. I see you. I see you." Even these words written "for the women who can't pour themselves into poems but their minds always race at 3am" have an undeniable universal appeal that grips until the very end of this book. Makanda takes us on a journey that grabs hold of our hearts most of the way and only let's go when sure that we understand that hope is on the horizon or as she puts it: "The sun has finally come out". The use of short, heavy metaphors create a sense of breathlessness and heaviness, an accelerated need to relate to the author , to understand, to comfort and in all its glorious ambivalence, to hope and exhale.
When No One Is Watching is as true as it is brilliant!
I hate criticizing poetry because it is someone's life and heartache on these pages but I didn't get anything out of this. I didn't hate it, it had so much potential with the content but it felt empty I personally needed a little more.
Thank you to Henry Roi of Odyssey Books for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
In her first collection of poetry and prose, Linathi Makanda embarks on a mission to redefine and occupy a creative space where the personal, the public, and the political intertwine for the purposes of hope and healing. Each vivid fragment of her art is an attestation to her natural talent for storytelling, her uncanny ability for exquisite expression of even the most mundane moments.
Despite its tonal resonances with the likes of Sappho (and even Rupi Kaur), Makanda's collection is strikingly unique. Her voice adopts the lyrical yet conversational style of scribbled journal entries, of late-night murmurings, of half-forgotten childhood stories. Some of her poems seem almost fragile, as though she has shaped them with trembling fingers; others feel like explosions of heat and noise. At times her words so are alight with anger and passion that they seem to burn through the pages, while at others they settle light as a catching breath on the reader's lips. Makanda's range of emotion - and her ability to convey subtle shifts in a single word - is one of the most compelling elements of her writing.
Themes of love, childhood, survival, memory, despair, heartbreak, and gender cascade over each other and build to a rising climax through the four parts of the compilation. Makanda dares her readers to search themselves for the potential to recover from personal trauma, right from the dedication - Stay. Heal - to the final rousing affirmation - The sun has finally come out. The journey she pulls us through is one of yearning, discovery, agency. She implores us to reclaim our voices and speak our own healing into being. We are miracle workers, she whispers. Writing ourselves back to life / Loving ourselves back to life.
Perhaps the most potent theme in Makanda's collection is that of poetry itself. Poetry is a space of awakening: Brought back to life by him / constantly loving me in poetry, in silence. It is a space to retreat from rejection: I woke up and all I had was poetry and prose while he gave all he had to someone else. It is a space of desperate suffering: I'd make a home for you between my lines and you would still forget me. It is a space of acceptance and hope: I hope she writes you back to life. Better than I ever will, I hope. But above all, it is a space of self-redemption. Love and healing become synonymous with the writing process as the speaker learns to embrace herself:
You have taken your own two hands Mended and moulded what was once broken You are the god in your story Weaving your own redemption Weaving your own healing Weaving your own healing
This is the churning tide that pulls together the poems in When No One Is Watching: a defiance of the pain that is deepened by silence and invisibility. Hope comes not only in Weaving your own healing, but also in feed[ing] them the story of how you loved yourself back to life. As the collection draws to a close, Makanda invites the reader to join her in this radical act of self-love. She welcomes invisible women to occupy her space, to indulge in the affirmation of being seen: I am writing for you all. / I see you. / I see you.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Poetry is one of the hardest forms of literature to review. It's very subjective and depends on the reader's mood and life experiences. I read this late at night with a bottle of wine, and the pages brought me to Neverland - where I felt the bittersweet relationship between Peter Pan and Wendy, for losing something and accepting yourself is one of the main themes of this book.
When No One Is Watching is an unguarded and raw take on the tragedies of life with hints of hope sprinkled in between. It makes use of childhood themes and ideas and gently moves on to more mature topics. The book is divided into four parts, and each section focuses on a different emotion:
1. Love Rising – this focused more on longing and reaching for something unattainable, something otherworldly. The poems struck deep and made me feel emotions I never knew you had.
2. Love Lost – The first poem grabbed my heartstrings and refused to let go. It was a great way to start the second part of the book to solidify the theme. "I never thought you wouldn't choose me." almost made me want to drink the whole bottle of wine in one go. It packed a lot of punches and delivered a fatal blow. Although love rising was hopeful, love lost was melancholic.
3. Internal Uprising – This section was where Makanda indeed showed her vulnerable side. It focused on self-reflection and feelings of inadequacy. It was regret, pain, and resentment all wrapped into a few pages. I truly appreciated how the author did not hold anything back but poured all her emotions into it. It was heartbreaking and impressive at the same time. Makanda was not afraid to show the world what she had been through, and that spoke volumes. You could visualize and paint exactly the pain she was describing.
4. Hope rising – This was where the sprinkles of joy appeared. Varying differently from the previous sections, it was a great way to show that the author was not afraid to show the ugly side of life but also rejoiced in the happiness of life on earth.
Makanda tried to open our eyes to things we rarely wanted to see, let alone feel. The poems were mostly straightforward, and the sections guide you to the theme, but Internal Uprising was where I needed to put on my thinking cap to understand what the author was trying to say. I would highly recommend this book to people who want more than just heartache and melancholy. I recommend it to readers who could endure pain and regret but could always look at the sunrise and think of hope. Overall, I appreciated Makanda's bravery in writing about something that was rarely talked about and putting her own mix into it.
“I want to give you the kind of love that’ll make even the gods cry”
When No One Is Watching is a collection of poems by Linathi Makanda that tell a story of love, passion, loneliness, trauma, and empowerment. Lots of the reviews and promotions compare Makanda’s work to that of Rupi Kaur, and while their poetic styles are similar, there is something about this collection that drew me in, taking me on an emotional journey through every twist and turn.
Unlike many poetry collections, there is an overarching narrative that connects the poems, telling an incredibly personal story that grabs you by the heartstrings. The book is divided into four sections: Love Rising, Love Lost, Internal Uprising, and Hope Rising. In Love Rising we are drawn in by a passion that is both uniquely personal and universal at the same time. In Love Lost we feel heartbreak, both our own and Makanda’s as we get a glimpse into the past. Internal Uprising opens our eyes to the trauma of sexual assault, and how it impacts every relationship – of every kind – that someone has in their life. Finally, in Hope Rising, we not only see the poet make an active choice to respect and prioritise herself, but she gives the reader a space to do so too.
I’m not being hyperbolic when I say I don’t think I’ve ever been so affected by a collection of poetry this much. Makanda has an incredible talent with words, crafting them with such care but also such apparent ease. Her voice was so assured while still conveying an intense vulnerability, yet she still found a way to give a voice to not only the reader but to generations of silenced women. However, it is the power of the individual that is at the centre of Makanda’s message, and more specifically, the power we have over our own lives and our own individuality.
Within a few pages I knew I was fully committed on this poetic journey, and by the final chapter I felt like I trusted the poet implicitly. There were times when I wanted to cry, and times when I wanted to punch the air with joy and pride. I immediately wanted to go out and buy a copy for every single person I know, to force them to sit down and read it so they could go on this reading experience with me. This is definitely a collection I will be returning to time and time again and I highly recommend you pick it up.
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
The other day was rough. I thought this book of poetry would give me a bit of calm and happy. Oh foolish me. I'd forgotten that poetry isn't so much an escape as it is an opportunity to reflect.
Poetry is hard to review, because it is so very subjective. So let's start with the facts and move on from there.
The book is short, and is divided into four sections: Love Rising, Love Lost, Internal Uprising, and Hope Rising. The poems themselves are short as well, leaving a lot of room for the reader's own thoughts.
At first, I was confused because many of the poems are only a sentence or two. I'd expected something described with words like dark and trauma to have more visual weight. I soon figured out they're stab wounds: thin lines with depth to them.
Here is just one taste, from Internal Uprising: “The suicide notes in my head are poetry compilations unreleased. Thank God they will never make it to the shelves.” For me, that poem brought to mind a much-missed friend who "published" her note, and two others whose stories you can read on their skin: one in her scars, and one in her tattoo. The entire volume is filled with poems like that.
These poems are for you if: -you’ve loved and lost -you’ve loved and lost so many times that you’re beginning to feel there’s something wrong with you -you’ve lived through sexual trauma -your loved one has lived through sexual trauma -you’ve had a tough life and are holding on to hope anyway -you’ve had a tough life and need some hope to hold on to
Full disclosure: I received a free ebook copy with a request to review. It’s unlikely I’d have picked this up otherwise, which would have been a shame.
Thank you to Henry Roi, the PR Manager at Odyssey Books, for sending me this wonderful book in exchange for an honest review.
This poetry collection is an absolute must-read for fans of Rupi Kaur. When No One is Watching explores the process of love, loss, and healing. Written in a style that is recognised by any Rupi Kaur lover, the poems are short and interconnected, flowing into the next like a stream of conciousness. Makanda's words are emotive and powerful; she says exactly what she means with both heartbreaking and heartwarming honesty.
The collection explores relationships in all forms - romantic love, familial love, but most importantly our relationship with ourselves. The collection unfolds parallel to how the events happen in real life, from falling in love in 'Love Rising', to being heartbroken in 'Love Lost', to finally mending the self and finding peace in 'Hope Rising'. You follow the journey of the poems and your own path to self-discovery and self-love. The poems prove a reader's strength and internal beauty and celebrates surviving pain. The poems are incredibly relatable and truly show the things that we do when no one is watching.
I took a break from reading The Bookish Life of Nina Hill to read When No One Is Watching, a poetry book by Linathi Makanda. I was kindly sent an e-copy by Odyssey Books in exchange for an honest review.⠀ ⠀ The book is a compilation of poems, which, to me, felt like a journey, instead of stand-alone experiences. The poems Linathi wrote were about love, and trauma, each written in such an open and honest way. The book has four parts, beginning with Love Rising in which it is about new and wonderful love, and ending with Hope Rising in which it is about resilience after lost love. It was an emotional read for me since some poems evoked memories and past experiences, but I was also filled with hope by the end. I would recommend this to poetry readers, though I must warn you of a bit of graphic content.⠀ ⠀ I would rate this book 3/5, because I was not emotionally connected to it as much as I thought I would be.
Just finished your book- I love it, towards the end I felt you writing your experiences, in a calm and logical way, felt like someone who's healed when in the beginning it felt like you were pouring out your heart and also had a bit of anger inside. I assume the book was written in different parts/stages of your life. I love the beauty of truth displayed in that.. the unfiltered emotions you expressed. I love how calm the end is... how soothing these words of affirmation are, it made me feel the emotions - like you were a counselor, like you had been through pain and understood you have to share your experiences in a manner that says "this is not about me but from my story, i want you to learn love"... When No one is watching, we ought to love ourselves. When No One is watching, we have to heal for ourselves, When No one is watching, we have no one else but ourselves!
Thank you for sharing your Art with us.❤ It's truly beautiful
I haven't picked up a poetry book in a while and honestly, I'm glad that this is the one I read. First, the cover art is simple but fitting. In all four sections (Love Rising, Love Lost, Internal Uprising, & Hope Rising), every piece is raw! Although Linathi is writing from her own heart and mind based on her experiences, on some level I can say that I too share similar experiences which is one of the main things I love about poetry. Her poems speak on heartbreak, relationships with family members, traumatic experiences, spiritual aspects (God, gods, & the Universe), self-love, and embracing all of you inside and out- especially if you're a black woman. The way she incorporated the art of writing poetry in her poetry, beautiful. It was so good that I highlighted some of my favorite poems and even some one-liners. Make 'When No One Is Watching' your next poetry book!
I’ve been reading this on and off for a while (it’s on scribd). Truly, I should have dnf-ed a while ago. The language is flowery and presumed to be touching, but it’s not really poetic.
Writing in verse doesn’t automatically qualify as poetry, putting 3 lines of text on a page is not a literary statement. Too bad I can’t copy examples, scribd is not as sharing friendly as I would like. But trust me on this, mkay?
All the poems revolve around the one of this person’s life. The author appears to try to process some childhood trauma (aren’t we all?) and difficult relations with her (their?) father. The problem is not the message, but how obvious it is, how we are being told these things repeatedly. Hammered, even. Yawn.
I really don't normally go for poetry. I think I need to be in the right mood for it. However, this little collection of poetry is quite vulnerable and emotional, and it definitely moved me. I would like to read this again down the road because I think I might be able to get a bit more appreciation for it. I am already struggling with my own traumas and while I definitely did feel that I could relate to this, it almost made my pain and vulnerability even stronger than it already is... kind of like having it reflected right back to me.
Thank you to the author and Voracious Readers Only for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
When No One is Watching is a short collection of hard hitting poems split into 4 sections:
-LOVE RISING -LOVE LOST -INTERNAL UPRISING -HOPE RISING
Focusing on themes of love and loss, trauma and the aftermath, vulnerability, insecurity and even hope, I found almost all of these poems to be incredible. Really poignant and something I will definitely be re-reading. The writer has a real sense of self and that came through on this read and this will definitely stick with me.
A story of fire and ice. I currently relate to the cold, painful pages. I hope to one day read this again and also say full heartedly "I relate of this deep healing love that Linathi has enriched these pages with". Such carefulness and tenderness has this book been written with. Truly well done Linathi Makanda. May your days and nights be filled with healing love.