Sarah Lubala's debut collection of poetry, A History of Disappearance, centres on the experiences of those living on the margins, particularly girls and women. The opening poem, "6 Errant Thoughts on Being a Refugee," for which Lubala was shortlisted for the prestigious Gerald Kraak Award, sets the tone for this important collection.
The 56 poems span themes such as forced migration, gender-violence, xenophobia, race, mental illness, love, and belonging. The notion of disappearance runs like a thread through each of them, not only as an event, but, as Lubala describes it in an interview with OkayAfrica, also "as a structure of experience." Lubala writes in taut, bare sentences, potent in their lyrical beauty. Every word is exact and necessary, none are superfluous. Many of her poems read like prayers, and indeed this is a word that returns again and again in the collection. In spite of the adversity her speakers face, they refuse to remain silent. Each of their voices shines through the language, loud with resistance. Her poems navigate the pain of displacement, loss, absence, and grief with empathy and care.
Lublala has said of her work that she hopes to expand the "moral imagination" of her readers. She achieves just this, confronting the reader with the human face, obliging us to look and imagine beyond the margins of our own experience.