Brutus, Dennis Vincent

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Dennis Vincent Brutus, 1924–2009, South African poet, b. Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe). Brutus grew up in South Africa and received (1947) his B.A. from the Univ. of Fort Hare in Alice. He taught high school from 1948 until 1962, when as a result of his political activism, notably his protests against all-white South African sports, he was fired from his job and imprisoned (1963). In 1966 his works were banned, and he was sent into exile. His testimony concerning apartheid helped win support for the ban against South Africa's participation in the 1970 Olympic Games. Brutus emigrated (1971) to the United States and taught at several American universities, including Northwestern (1971–85) and Pittsburgh (1986–2009), where he was professor emeritus. Most of Brutus's restrained yet emotional, beautifully crafted, and deeply personal poetry reflects his prison experiences, his struggle for justice, and the agony of political exile. Remaining an activist, Brutus in his later years opposed the practices of various world financial organizations and called for action against global warming. Brutus's first published volume of poetry was Sirens, Knuckles, Boots (1963); his others include Letters to Martha and Other Poems from a South African Prison (1969), A Simple Lust (1973), Stubborn Hope (1978), Salutes and Censures (1984), Airs and Tributes (1989), and Still the Sirens (1993).

See C. W. McLuckie and P. J. Colbert, ed., Critical Perspectives on Dennis Brutus (1995); A. Karim and L. Sustar, ed., Poetry & Protest: A Dennis Brutus Reader (2006); Dennis Brutus (National Public Radio recording, 1986).