Comparative analysis of black queer feminist isiXhosa and English poetry




poetry, queerness, blackness, women, discourse, heteronormativity, heteropatriarchy


Black queer feminist literature remains under-researched. This reflects the societal marginalisation of black queer authors in South Africa. Our article offers a comparative analysis of the representation of black queer women by black queer and cisgender authors in selected isiXhosa and English poetry. The poems selected are from Unam Wena (2021) by Mthunzikazi Mbungwana and red cotton (2018) by vangile gantsho. Firstly, we explore how queer feminism is captured from a Xhosa perspective. Secondly, we explore how English is used to expose readers to black queerness, and, thirdly, we question how literary scholarship influences or limits black queer feminist literature and the functionality of queer feminist poetry as representations of black women. Discourse theory is used to examine how authors of the selected poetry construct knowledge about black queerness from a feminist perspective and shape how people understand it. In this article we adopt a narrative enquiry within the constructionism paradigm with qualitative textual analysis. Our analysis of the poetry reveals that, although the selected poets use two different languages, the same protest voice is foregrounded, with observable differences being primarily technical—namely how form, sound, and structure are employed to set the tone and mood in the issues addressed.


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Author Biographies

Tsosheletso Chidi, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Tsosheletso Chidi is a PhD candidate in the Department of African Languages, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.

Nompumelelo Zondi, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

Nompumelelo Zondi is Vice Dean for Research and Postgraduate Studies in the Faculty of Humanities, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Gabi Mkhize, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Gabi Mkhize is Head of the Department of Gender Studies and the Cluster Academic Leader for the Development Cluster, School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.


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How to Cite

Chidi, T., Zondi, N., & Mkhize, G. (2024). Comparative analysis of black queer feminist isiXhosa and English poetry. Tydskrif Vir Letterkunde, 61(1), 81–89.



Research articles