- Category: PA 2002
Keorapetse Willie Kgositsile was born in 1938, left South Africa in 1961 as one of the first young ANC members instructed to do so by the leadership of the liberation movement. Kgotsisile was a founding member of the ANC Department of Education, as well as that of Arts and Culture. He has been studying and teaching courses in Literature, African Literature, African American Literature and Creative Writing in various US and African institutions since his first post at Sarah Lawrence College in New York in 1969. In the late sixties he compiled an anthology of African poetry for Doubleday titled The World is Here. In addition to his six books of poetry, Kgotsisile has published numerous poems in literary journals and anthologies. He has been the recipient of a number of literary awards over the last four decades, inter alia, the Conrad Kent Rivers Memorial Poetry Award, the National Endowment for the Arts poetry award, the New York Council of the Arts poetry award, the Rockefeller Foundation poetry grant, and the Artists' Public Service Poetry Award, with the latest being the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize (2000).
Keoropatse's latest book, About If I Could Sing, is the first collection to give an overview of his work. Written over four decades, many while in exile, the poems explore a wide spectrum of emotions and a need to participate in the struggle to liberate the land of his birth. In the highly original rhythms of the poems the subtle influence of jazz and the Setswana language can be heard. Five of his earlier collections, published in the USA, are now out of print.