Winter is the time for poetry. Nature gets dramatic at this time of year, and we attempt to match it as best we can. There is nothing better than wallowing in the words of a stranger when things are dark and gloomy and you feel a bit Bette Davis in Now, Voyager. When Putuma writes “(your silence is too loud for this noisy place)” in In Public, and the wind picks up outside, the feeling in my chest is something akin to flight. When I saw her perform her poem Water, a blistering take on stereotypes and the history of apartheid, I burst into tears.
Her poetry makes me feel angry and vulnerable, which can be good things, even when they’re not exactly welcome. Everything is subjective, of course. I hold to the romantic notion that certain poems come to us as and when we need them the most.