Linathi Thabang Makanda is a twenty-two-year-old South African-based writer of poetry and prose. A Communications and Marketing student and self-taught photographer, she strives to portray genuine emotion through her writing and photographic art. An avid reader, Linathi also has a great interest in music and all forms of visual expression.
What do you love about writing poetry?
I have always been drawn to poetry and prose but mostly reading it than writing it. I read work from the likes of Ijeoma Umebinyuo, Upile Chisala, Trista Mateer, Reyna Biddy, Warsan Shire and I also acquainted myself with the work of people close to me who are also writers.
The work in my book was written mostly throughout the course of hardship and a transition from being one form of self to another. The said transition came with understanding certain experiences differently and thus also being able to articulate certain things differently from how I attempted to express them through my writing in the past.
Is your poetry based upon your own life experiences?
Mostly, yes. However, there are pieces in the book that are written without a specific subject. They are written from mostly channeling a feeling and working towards how I would like the piece to ultimately be.
Many of the poems in your collection are quite profound. What form will your poetry take in future?
I think any work from me in the future will definitely be somewhat lighter. I would want my work to almost take the form of the last chapter in the book, Hope Rising and be less heavy and reflective of the past and more focused on the present and the future.
What is your biggest motivation for writing?
My motivation would definitely be rooted in coming to the realisation that I have stories to tell and wanting those stories to be told for anyone else that might have the same experiences but struggle to articulate them. I also draw strength from close friends of mine who always encourage me to keep writing and working until I am ultimately happy with the work I produce.
What would you say is your biggest accomplishment?
The craft of writing itself. Having stopped writing for some time because of doubt and feeling like I’m not really finding my voice, coming back to writing and assuming form has really been a worthwhile journey. I’m not only proud of the work but I’m also ever so grateful for the journey itself.
What advice would you give a young writer trying to get published?
As soon as you get the feeling of wanting to venture into publishing your work, do your research (can’t stress this enough) and try to centre it according to the kind of work that you write. This might include:
- Formats of manuscripts according to the genre you write
- Submissions open for your said genre (also look into which publishing house best suits your writing and where you’re trying to take your book)
- Alternatives for getting your work out there. For example, getting published in journals etc.
One must also consider ALL kinds of ways to make submissions; do not try one thing and stick to that. Not even your geographical location must be your limitation. KNOCK ON ALL DOORS.
Lastly, constantly work towards bettering your manuscript and keep making as many submissions as you can.
What inspires you when you hit writer’s block?
I really just read more than usual when I have writer’s block. I try not to stress too much about writing and not being able to write at that moment. I do, however, try to document pieces that almost work. I find that sometimes it’s possible to build a whole piece from some of those unfinished pieces.
Describe your writing style in three words.
Descriptive. Emotive. Relatable.
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 even alternate version of an individual. When No One Is Watching is the truth in its purest form.
When No One Is Watching will be published in January 2020.