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Daughter Wound cover by Nkateko Masinga

Mothers and daughters

South African poet Nkateko Masinga previews a new poem from her collection Daughter Wound, due to be published by Hazel Press in April 2024. The collection explores a young woman’s negotiation of intimate relationships: sexual, familial and political.

The cover design features ‘Kin’, a painting by artist Anna Ilsley, which was commissioned for this collection. Ilsley’s work challenges the construct of the male gaze and offers a feminist disruption of patriarchal images.


I am rewriting my mother’s story on my face
See the quotation marks holding my smile together?

Even my laughter is hers, not mine

Be careful how you say your own mother’s name
how you articulate your blood

You and your mother were once one person
a question mark in each ear
born to listen to her

Everything about you says
I am telling someone else’s story
I am still not sure about mine

Make sure you are reading the history book
being written in your childhood home

Collecting recipes too
because age is engraving farewell messages
into Mama’s skin

and how will you sustain yourself
when she is gone?

The words on her earlier pages
are disappearing as you read them

Your mother is forgetting herself

One day she will not be there
when you turn back to a part of her story
you enjoyed, hoping she will read it again

hoping to hear her laughter echo across the room
as she throws her head back

One day she will not be here to speak
so you will repeat her words to your children
just to hear her voice in yours
Daughter Wound cover by Nkateko Masinga and Anna Ilsley

Nkateko Masinga

Nkateko Masinga is an award-winning writer and scholar. A graduate of the University of Iowa’s 2021 International Writing Program, she was a 2019 Fellow of the Ebedi International Writers Residency, a 2018 Mandela Washington Fellow and a Golden Key Scholar. In 2018 she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. You can read more on Nkateko’s website here.

Poem ‘Heritage’ copyright © Nkateko Masinga 2023.

Cover image ‘Kin’ copyright © Anna Ilsley 2023.

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