Viewing page 2 of 7


Transcription: [00:02:11]
{SPEAKER name="Brooks B. Robinson"}
Okay, but since that time you've written many poems, and
many of them interwoven with the struggle in South Africa.

{SPEAKER name="Dennis Brutus"}
That's true.

{SPEAKER name="Brooks B. Robinson"}
Would you go into your experiences there?

{SPEAKER name="Dennis Brutus"}
Well, I was banned from writing poetry
and I was banned from publishing poetry,
but my banning order came as a consequence of my activity in other fields.
I was opposing racism in education, racism in housing,
the ghettos of South Africa, and particularly racism in sport.
The fact that the South African Olympic team was an all-white team
and Black athletes were excluded was a thing that made me very angry and I worked on it.
I formed an organization with about 60,000 members. I was the secretary of it.
We challenged the apartheid structure, we tried to force Black athletes into the Olympics,
and when the racists refused, we got them expelled from the Olympics.
As a result of that activity I became very unpopular with the apartheid government.
I was banned in various ways and forbidden to write,
and eventually arrested and sent to prison, so that my involvement was only partly as a writer.

{SPEAKER name="Brooks B. Robinson"}
Now, some of your works deal with those particular issues and matters.
Would you like to read maybe one of them now and we'll go back to them a little later?

{SPEAKER name="Dennis Brutus"}
I'll have to read some of the contemporary stuff, it's the only things I have with me today.
But before I do that I would say that my work does fall into phases.
My first collection, "Sirens, Knuckles, Boots", was published in Nigeria while I was in prison,
and it deals essentially with the ghetto experience.
After I came out of prison, Robben Island, I had a collection published in Britain, called "Letters to Martha".

Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact