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Miami University
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Poet Laureate of South Africa to visit Miami


Keorapetse "Willie" Kgositsile, the poet laureate of South Africa, will visit Miami University and read from his work at 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 26, in Leonard Theater, Peabody Hall.

Kgositsile is one of the most internationally acclaimed and widely published South African poets. He is special adviser to the South African Minister of Arts and Culture, and is a founding member of the African National Congress (ANC) Veterans League and a member of the ANC National Centenary Task Team.

He left South Africa in 1961, as one of the first young ANC members instructed to do so by the leadership of the liberation movement.

Kgositsile received a master's of fine arts in poetry from Columbia University, and his second collection, My Name is Afrika (1971), established his early reputation. During the 1970s he was a central figure among African-American poets, encouraging interest in Africa as well as the practice of poetry as a performance art.
In 1990, after 29 years of exile, he returned to South Africa for the first time, as a hero to many of its young writers.

His poetry collections include My Name is Afrika, Heartprints, To the Bitter End, If I Could Sing, and This Way I Salute You. He has been the recipient of a number of literary awards including the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, the Harlem Cultural Council Poetry Award, the Conrad Kent Rivers Memorial Poetry Award, the Herman Charles Bosman Prize and others. In 2008 he was awarded the National Order of Ikhamanga: Silver (OIS).

For many years, Kgositsile followed a pattern of spending six months in the land of his birth and six months in the United States, where he taught at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA).

In 2001, he finally returned to settle in Johannesburg. In July 2004, he was appointed Special Adviser to the Minister of Arts and Culture. He was named Poet Laureate in 2006.

His talk is sponsored by the creative writing program and the department of English.


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