The poem ‘This is not a drill’ is taken from Koleka Putuma’s second poetry collection : Hullo, Bu-Bye, Koko, Come In… going straight to the heart of tackling the legacies of black femme erasure from society as well as in the arts.
“I wanted these excerpts to serve as a conversation between the poems and an archive of sorts – an archive of black women (living and dead) who are looked at, celebrated, uncited, erased and exploited. I wanted to make visible the words of black women who have had to navigate the complexities of a constant gaze that often renders the “looked at” invisible. In my quest, I wanted to further understand and challenge my own methods of citation, documentation and seeing – and in doing that – invite others to do the same,” she says.
Following this impulse and invitation, this particular poem is interpreted through movement art by Purity Mkhize. They are physically placed within the South African landscape, surrounded by waves ceaselessly hurling themselves at rock faces until they find calmer waters within.
Purity Mkhize says “Homophobia and intolerance are a lot more visible now than before, but so too is boldness and resilience among the activist communities across the continent. Activism is now present in almost every African country, pushing for our rights, security and visibility. The volume is being turned down on the argument that homosexuality is “unAfrican”. This piece inspired me to move with care within these themes of identity and courage – the taxing labour of negotiating our choices to simply exist, when some are granted this without question.
Working with Koleka, Inka and Sara on ‘This is not a drill’ has been incredibly nourishing and affirming, inviting in a deeper sense of caretaking/giving to topics that are dearest to us all.”