Category Archives: Dennis Brutus Archive

National Sporting Heritage Day 2017

Today it’s National Sporting Heritage Day and we’re blogging about one of our collections which is particularly relevant to this theme.

Dennis Brutus Collection

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Dennis Brutus was a South African human rights activist, sports campaigner against apartheid, and poet. He is perhaps best known for his campaign to have apartheid South Africa banned from the Olympics. In the 1960s there were issues surrounding participation in the Olympic Games by teams from apartheid South Africa, where athletes were racially segregated and had to compete in separate trials. South Africa was banned from the 1964 Games, but controversy resurfaced concerning involvement in the 1968 Games in Mexico City. Various athletes threatened a boycott if the team from South Africa was allowed to compete, and South Africa was eventually banned from the Games and from the Olympic movement, not reinstated until 1990.The Dennis Brutus collection held at Brunel is a valuable resource for the study of this controversy.

Dennis Brutus (1924-2009) was a founder of the South African Sports Association in 1961 and of the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee (SANROC) in 1963, of which he became president. He was refused a passport and later imprisoned; other members of SANROC suffered similarly, but the organisation was revived in London in 1966, when Brutus managed to move to Britain. Pictured above are a range of documents on the Olympic boycott.

 

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Freedom poems inspired by the collections to celebrate National Poetry Day 2017

Today we’re celebrating National Poetry Day by being part of a range of events. Emma Filtness, Lecturer in Creative Writing, teamed up with Special Collections at Brunel to encourage the writing and sharing of new, original poems on this year’s National Poetry Day theme, “Freedom”.

Items from the collections that resonated with the theme were offered as inspiration for participating poets. The featured items were:

Have a read of the selected entries below – enjoy!

A Woman’s Guide to Travel

by Simi Abe

Woman, you are origami first and foremost; born as cold pressed stars, water-shy boats, and flightless cranes. Age taught you how to undo your form, now you can be everything and anything. You were made to accommodate and occupy small spaces. This comprehensive guide will show you how to do so when in transit.

How to Sit on the Train

Next to a man made up of wide angles

Alter your shape to mimic his outline. Fold your knees to one side then crease your ankles against the train floor.

Between two men with sharp intrusive corners

Make unassuming angles of your violent, womanly curves. Gather your legs onto your seat; keep your knees pressed against your chest and arms neatly tucked in.

When a man fails to acknowledge your form

 If a man ever sits on you by mistake, collapse your ribs to accommodate the brute force of his spine. Compress your organs for the betterment of his comfort.

If you’re caught next to the precipice of his knee

Learn to invert your body. Hook a leg over your shoulder and scrunch the other beneath you. Press an arm behind your back and drape the second one over your head.

Simi Abe is currently studying Creative Writing in London. She uses her unique perspective on the world to examine the female experience and identity within her work. She draws inspiration from the playfulness in surreal art and beautiful film cinematography which help her create strong visual images. She especially enjoys experimenting with surrealism because it is an excellent way of pushing creative boundaries.

19:52 to Paddington

by Kirsty Capes

The sea seems far gone now, the tide tugged away
by a cancer-moon and
I am placing narrow feet into high-heeled shoes on
the station platform. Smells brittle,
like industry, like metal in blood,
something aged but nascent. Something
emerging from the womb.

When the train arrives, there is a
you are far too pretty to be travelling alone and then:
bile. Stinging the throat, the mouth, the back of the nose.
The guard says thank you,

thank you ever so much.

There is no time to read. Someone in the
next carriage is chain smoking;
face obscured. I imagine
the thing inside me growing stronger.

The imprint of a puckered mouth, coated with
chili-coloured lipstick,
smeared on the windowpane.
Outside, dusk is the yolk of an egg,
spooned out and split.

We are sorry to announce
the Circle Line is closed for engineering works.

Kirsty Capes is a postgraduate research student and teaching assistant on the Creative Writing programme at Brunel University London. Her poems have previously been published in Rising, Roulade and Astronaut magazines. She writes at femalefriendshipinfiction.wordpress.com and tweets at @kirstycapes

 

In the air

by Marina Cicionesi Jansson

encapsulated in the airplane,
out of reach of coming down
she´s resting in the blue seats,
a calming blue she has come to know
in the middle of going and coming,
from home to home through terminals
once, London was new;
a thousand red buses dissed her in the roundabout
the first time she came up from the underground
a vibrancy of the unknown shook her into being new
who do you become when always being in the in-between?
in one landscape you come to play a role,
in another you´re not the same
she learnt to leave, leave and leave
as each day is a chance of re-awaking
each time a take off she lets go
of her old self in the known
waving to the past,
to who she knew her self to be
each landing is a new start,
opening the eyes seeing blue
yet she´s lingering, in this comfortable encapsulated blue
unwilling to leave the non-gravity moment,
its transparent air, this above-perspective
revealing all her directions simultaneously
a looking glass of a make believe,
awakening those limitless capacities
shaking her like turbulence,
this eagerness!
arising like watered sprouts to the sun  
if I only could bring this certainty to the ground!
she will remember it in things that are blue
once, in the unknown coming,
she´ll blossom in blue

Marina Cicionesi Jansson is currently studying an English with Creative Writing BA at Brunel University London and moved to London in early 2015 from Sweden. As she is still living between the countries, and travelling when not studying, the feeling of being in the “in-between” strongly influences her writing. She also works as a photographer and art director with the focus on social and environmental challenges: http://marinacj.se

A Cautionary Tale

by Emma Filtness

I am the girl with hair the shade of Mother’s copper pot / the girl with freckles that develop over time like rusting iron / with eyes the colours oak leaves turn in autumn / the girl who wears a hooded cloak steeped in madder root / who carries a basket of dark rye bread and heady honey-wine / the girl lured by the sweet rot of the after-harvest / who snatched up the last of summer’s flowers / stems snapping and paper-leaves rifling / the girl who looked with longing into the dark of the under-canopy / whose pulse throbbed hot at the first grey glimpse of pelt / the girl who sighed as she met the amber gaze of wolf / the girl who did not listen to her mother

Emma Filtness lectures in Creative Writing and English at Brunel University London as well as leading community Creative Writing sessions. Her poetry, short fiction, reviews and articles have appeared in magazines and journals such as Popshot and Writing in Education. Find out more: https://emmafiltness.wordpress.com/

Victoria, Siempre

by Jonathan Pizarro

In the eastern breeze you navigate
Your mother’s veins,
That ran through roads unexplored
By her mother’s mothers.

Transcendent,
And keeping with the pump of
Lungs
That drew breath
On different words.

In knots measured
A challenge,
Sails full for those lands
Bombed by yonder enemy,
Yet feeling the magnificence

Of possibility,
While a city burns around you.

The guilt,
It turns with each passing bus,
It hangs on the sleeves
Of the nuns who give you
The taste of gasping
Knowledge.

What a fountain
What a rebirth,
What a beautiful sensation
Of paper turned and ignorance
Forgotten.

And then to return,
To silent revelry.
To the turning of
Beads
Until you get to the
Cross,
Decades again repeated.

But never wanting,
Never tied.
Always those sweet breaths
Of memory,
The black and white film
Of when you ran
Free.

Jonathan Pizarro is a mild-mannered English Literature/Creative Writing student and writer. In particular, he explores horror and speculative fiction in relation to his hometown, Gibraltar. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @pizarrofiction and check out his blog.

To read more “Freedom poems” check out the National Poetry Day website.

We are delighted to announce that the winner of our creative writing competition is Simi Abe, for her poem A woman’s guide to travel. Congratulations Simi! Your prize is a library bookbag, Waterstones gift card and some writing-related goodies. We’ll be in touch to get them to you.

50 objects 47: Dennis Brutus’ poems on Solomon Mahlangu

Dennis Brutus (1924-2009) was a poet and human rights activist who grew up in South Africa. He taught in a high school until he was dismissed for activism against apartheid, and he became instrumental in the movement against racism in sport. He was imprisoned and, on release, forbidden from teaching, publishing his writings, continuing to study law, and attending political meetings.

His poems reflect his frustrations and sadness at the political environment, and are frequently concerned with the sufferings of fellow black or mixed-race people.

One poignant set of poems on this topic is In Memoriam: Solomon Mahlangu, published in 1979. Solomon Mahlangu was a South African who was hanged by the apartheid South African government in 1979 after a controversial verdict finding him guilty of murder, and despite the intervention of the UN. The deaths were caused by another man, who was not considered fit to stand trial, and Mahlangu was found guilty on the understanding that he had had a “common intent” with the other man. The booklet begins, and ends,

“Singing
he went to war
and singing
he went to his death”.

The copy of this collection held at Brunel has a handwritten dedication to Brutus’ wife and children.solomon

Another published booklet of poems held in the Dennis Brutus Collection is Thoughts Abroad, by Dennis Brutus but published under the pseudonym John Bruin in order that it could be published in South Africa, where Brutus’ work was banned. This copy has been updated to attribute the work correctly and explain more about Brutus and his work.

There also handwritten poems and drafts by Dennis Brutus, and various works by other poets. The copy of Restless Leaves, a booklet of poems by Mark Espin, is dedicated to Dennis Brutus in thanks for the inspiration he provided.

espin

hearing1

End of a poem written by Dennis Brutus during a UN hearing

 

Further reading on Dennis Brutus:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/dennis-brutus

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/feb/23/dennis-brutus-obituary

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Dennis-Brutus

 

 

50 objects 31: South Africa and the 1968 Olympics

This Friday, the 2016 Olympic Games open in Rio. As well as promoting excellence in sport, the Olympic movement has a much wider remit to seek friendship and fair play worldwide.  The IOC states “The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

Sometimes that ideal has been hard to reach. In the 1960s there were issues surrounding participation in the Olympic Games by teams from apartheid South Africa, where athletes were racially segregated and had to compete in separate trials. South Africa was banned from the 1964 Games, but controversy resurfaced concerning involvement in the 1968 Games in Mexico City. Various athletes threatened a boycott if the team from South Africa was allowed to compete, and South Africa was eventually banned from the Games and from the Olympic movement, not reinstated until 1990.

The Dennis Brutus collection held at Brunel is a valuable resource for the study of this controversy. Dennis Brutus (1924-2009) was a South African-born poet and human rights activist who spearheaded a successful campaign to ban apartheid South Africa from international sport competitions, including the Olympics. He was a founder of the South African Sports Association in 1961 and of the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee (SANROC) in 1963, of which he became president. He was refused a passport and later imprisoned; other members of SANROC suffered similarly, but the organisation was revived in London in 1966, when Brutus managed to move to Britain.

Pictured are a range of documents on this topic from the Dennis Brutus collection.

 

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For more on Dennis Bruits and his human rights activism, see for instance http://www.sahistory.org.za/people/dennis-brutus.

 

 

National Sporting Heritage Day

Today it’s National Sporting Heritage Day, and we’re blogging about a couple of our collections which are particularly relevant to this.

Celia Brackenridge Collection

Celia and her OBE

Celia and her OBE

Celia Brackenridge OBE is Professor Emerita at Brunel University London. She spent her academic career researching inequalities in sport with special reference to gender and children’s rights. Among other things, she established her archive to document the struggles and successes of her efforts to secure child protection and the prevention of non-accidental violence and abuse in sport.

The collection documents her various research studies on sexual abuse in sport and her advocacy journey through the formation of the Women’s Sports Foundation (1984 onwards), the NGO WomenSport International (1994 onwards), the foundation and development of the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit (2001 onwards). The collection is based on Celia’s commitment to recording not just the outcomes of research but also the process and experience of doing advocacy-based investigations.

You can find out more about the collection on our website.

Dennis Brutus Collection

Dennis Brutus was a South African human rights activist, sports campaigner against apartheid, and poet. He is perhaps best known for his campaign to have apartheid South Africa banned from the Olympics in the 1960s. His collection here at Brunel includes personal and professional correspondence and a large collection of newspaper cuttings on sport and apartheid in South Africa.

Find out more about the Dennis Brutus collection on our website.

Archival adventures – my year with the Dennis Brutus collection

Blog post by Jemima Jarman, library graduate trainee 2014-15

Over the last year, I have been working at Brunel Library as a Graduate Trainee Librarian, learning about the library profession and all its related disciplines from the professionals themselves. It has truly been a rich and rewarding experience. I have been involved in the day to day running of the library, both front facing and behind the scenes and have had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects.

A significant portion of my time here has been spent in Special Collections, learning the basics of archival standards, collection management and rare book preservation from Katie Flanagan. This particular aspect of the Graduate Traineeship has been especially gratifying; as I have had the opportunity of seeing a large project through from beginning to end.

When I first learnt that I was to work with an entire uncatalogued collection and was to be trusted with creating detailed finding aids and descriptions, I felt a little overwhelmed and totally unqualified to do so! I didn’t even know where to start, and in the early stages I had to re-start several times. Katie was encouraging, helpful and supportive. She provided me with all the guidance I needed while also giving me the chance to work independently, to experiment and figure things out for myself. Having the opportunity to work in this way meant that once the project was complete, I felt more of a genuine sense of achievement.

The collection I was allocated to work on was that of Dennis Brutus, a South African human rights activist, sports campaigner against apartheid, and poet. I have to be honest; I didn’t feel an initial spark of interest when first looking through the materials. I have no interest in sport (rollerderby excepted) and I saw A LOT of cuttings from the sport pages of newspapers and information on the Olympics in the 70’s etc.

My mind soon changed however, the more I saw of the materials and the more I got to know about Dennis Brutus’ life, work, and passions. He was a fascinating man who never seemed to tire of pioneering and accomplishing incredible things. I learnt a lot about the social history and politics of South Africa, about the extent to which racial segregation pervaded every aspect of life for its citizens and the real dangers faced for those who fought to change it.

My experiences of working with the Dennis Brutus collection have been really positive. I have learnt a lot about the nature of special collections which will aid me professionally as I pursue a career in librarianship and academically, as a researcher. Collections which look like they may be of no interest or relevance can house so many hidden treasures. It is our job as librarians and archivists to raise awareness and draw attention to how broad the scope and relevance of these collections can be; and when conducting research ourselves, to keep open minded as to where potential sources may be found.

The Dennis Brutus collection-level description and finding aids are now on their way to be being published on ArchivesHub; and as I prepare to leave Brunel Library, it is my hope that this fascinating collection will be well used by future students in the years to come. The collection finding aid, and a finding aid arranged by subject are available on the collection webpage.

Nelson Mandela

Bookmark Daily

27th January, 1971…

Dear Miss Goolagong,

It has been reported that you are considering going to South Africa and it is on this matter that I have been instructed to write to you. You have already achieved a splendid reputation as a tennis player, and we wish you even greater successes in the future…

You cannot be unaware, however, that the structure of South African tennis is racialist, and that thousands of non-white South Africans, natives of the country, are excluded from the ‘national’ body which has invited you and they will be denied participation in the ‘national’ events in which you take part…

This letter to Aboriginal superstar of 1970s tennis, Evonne Goolagong, was written by Dennis Brutus (1924 – 2009). Brutus was a South African of African and European ancestry.  A poet, academic and anti-apartheid campaigner, he was one of the founders of SAN-ROC, (South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee.)…

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