Cover Image: Keorapetse Kgositsile

Keorapetse Kgositsile

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Member Reviews

This is a book that seemed more academic than leisurely to me. I tried to read it several times, always in small chunks, but I just couldn't get into it. I definitely needed more background information on some of the people and places mentioned in the poems. I can see this fitting well into a high school or college course where a teacher/professor can dive in and really analyze each piece. I'll keep trying and update my review if my feelings change.
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Keorapetse Kgositsile is filled with poems dealing with the realities of global racism, revolution, family, and rejecting death. While I rate this a 5/5 I will say that lot of these poems weren't for me. That's not suggesting that they're bad in any way - they're not! I'm just not the person who is going to connect to them in the ways he intended. They're not my experiences. They're not conversations for me and I respect that. 

Some parts are uncomfortable to read, which is their purpose. Reading through discomfort is nothing compared to living that discomfort. Some language is outdated, which I think is something too many white people are going to focus on because they will pinpoint 'problematic' behavior of poc while giving passes to white supremacists in literature.

I'd suggest this if you consider yourself to be anti-racist and want to learn more about the historic experiences of global racism.
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As a historical document, this collection of Keorapetse Kgositsile's poetry (opened with an introduction to his life and work that comprises the first quarter of the book), is fantastic. The chronological progress of the poems tracks alongside evolving political movements, from the anti-apartheid struggle, to the US civil rights movement, to the cold war and de-colonialism. 

The poetry itself, both in terms of language use and political bent, hasn't always aged well. And while those elements (from post-colonial politicians who evolved into totalitarianism, to rape metaphors) may make some of the work less politically relevant in the current sense, they still serve to tie the poems to the times and places in which they were originally written, which is fascinating.
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I would love to hear these poems read by the author. 

There are some lines from some poems I'm not sure what to do with, such as these from "For LeRoi Jones, 1965":

" teaching Blackmen / Never to know the truth / All the apologists for obscene hatred / And domination by white faggots / All these ghosts are dying / I discovered the truth one more time / Watchout, / Here comes the Blackman! / Can you do the dog? Did you ever drink skokian? / Is Harlem a vice-infested nigger ghetto / Or a house of truth? / Is that Christ I saw in your bedroom? Are you looking forward to / the destruction of america, A concrete act by LeRoi Jones? / Watchout, / Here comes the Blackman!"

(Kindle Locations 438-442). Kindle Edition. 

It's the fourth line from what I'm citing that bothers me--

But the rest of his work echoes the jazz that inspired him, moves around in syncopation. I appreciate that and what he does with language, but I'm refraining from rating it with stars on GoodReads. (NetGalley asks us for star ratings.)
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Mandela's Sermon was unforgettable. I've never heard of this poet, despite so much of his work being so sharp and moving. More people need to be exposed to this work.
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