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REVIEW: When No One Is Watching by Linathi Makanda

Updated: Jul 25, 2020



I was so happy to receive this e-book from Odyssey Books in return for an honest review, so thank you! I jumped at the chance to review When No One Is Watching, seeing it was compared to the work of Rupi Kaur, and I’m so glad that I did!


When No One Is Watching is by twenty-two-year-old South African writer Linathi Makanda. I was mainly drawn to this collection due to the writer being so close to my age, intrigued in hearing her creative voice and what she had to say. Makanda’s poetry explores love and loss in many forms; that of the self, of our relationships with others, and the passing of time. Makanda, as the title suggests, is interested in the things that we do when no one is watching and seeks to reveal the feelings that we bury within ourselves. The poems are short and interconnected, often flowing into the next and working in dialogue with one another throughout. In a style familiar to all Rupi Kaur lovers, the poems are short on the page, straight to the point, and leave white space for you to linger with your thoughts after reading.

Makanda’s prose is extremely emotive and raw; she says exactly what she means; even in metaphor, the truth seems to be laid bare for us to see and reflect upon. This collection takes the reader on a journey. The collection starts with poems about being in love and travels through heartbreak to then picking yourself up again. I found many of the poems relatable and that they make you feel less alone, yet they are also a message of hope to the reader that if you feel this way, things do get better. I particularly enjoyed the poet’s focus on the relationship with have with ourselves. Not only do these make you feel less alone, but some were incredibly encouraging in promoting self-love and self-acceptance, which I think is so important for everyone to feel, especially young women.


This poetry collection is a must-read for anyone who wants to feel less alone and hopeful for the future.

There were so many poems that I loved, but these are a few of my favourite lines:

  • 'I learnt from a very young age never to let / my roots grow too deeply in one place. / But when it comes to you, / I want to let them grow so deep, / generations begin and end but still find / them there.'

  • “Does your mother know you mostly exist in / between the lines of the tragedies you tell?"

  • ‘There is no greater loss than that of yourself.’

  • ‘Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so experienced in the / department of pain. My resume is disgusting. But / hire me, if you will.’ (I love this one)

  • ‘Do not test a woman of water. All hurricanes are / named after women.’

  • ‘The answer lies in the same room as the question.’

Thanks for reading and see you next time,

Kate x

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