Dennis Brutus

1924–2009
Born in Zimbabwe, poet and human rights activist Dennis Brutus grew up in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and was educated at Fort Hare University College. He taught high school for 14 years until he was dismissed for antiapartheid activism. After studying law at the University of the Witwatersrand and becoming increasingly active in movements opposing racial discrimination in sports, Brutus was shot and then sentenced to 18 months of hard labor on Robben Island, alongside Nelson Mandela. Forbidden to write or publish after his release, Brutus left South Africa in 1966 for England and then the United States.

Brutus taught at the University of Denver, Northwestern University, and the University of Pittsburgh. His poetry collections include Salutes and Censures (1985), Stubborn Hope (1978), and Letter to Martha and Other Poems from a South African Prison (1969). Poetry and Protest: A Dennis Brutus Reader (2006) was edited by Aisha Karim and Lee Sustar, and The Dennis Brutus Tapes: Essays at Autobiography (2011) was edited by Bernth Lindfors.

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Poet Categorization

POET’S REGION Africa

LIFE SPAN 1924–2009

Biography

Born in Zimbabwe, poet and human rights activist Dennis Brutus grew up in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and was educated at Fort Hare University College. He taught high school for 14 years until he was dismissed for antiapartheid activism. After studying law at the University of the Witwatersrand and becoming increasingly active in movements opposing racial discrimination in sports, Brutus was shot and then sentenced to 18 . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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