In 1961, he was one of the first young members of the African National Congress.
He achieved fame as a poet during his years in exile in the United State in the 60s and 70s. He was a central figure among African-American poets, encouraging interest in Africa as well as the practice of poetry as a performance art.
His name was known in the New York City jazz clubs for his vibrant readings. He was one of the first to bridge the gap between African poetry and Black poetry in the United States. The Last Poets, who are credited for laying the groundwork for the emergence of hip-hop, took their name from a poem he wrote in the 60s.
Since his first post at Sarah Lawrence College in New York in 1969, he taught Literature and Creative Writing at a number of universities in the United States and on the African continent including, the University of Denver, Wayne State University, New School for Social Research, University of California at Los Angeles and the universities of Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Fort Hare.
Kgositsile is one of the most internationally acclaimed and widely published South African poets. 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 a number of others. In 2008 he was awarded the National Order of Ikhamanga Silver (OIS).
(Keorapetse Kgositile is part of the Beyond Words UK tour including South African poets Don Mattera, Lesego Rampolokeng, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers and Lebo Mashile, presented by Apples & Snakes in association with Sustained Theatre, funded by British Council South Africa, Arts Council England and the South African Government.)
If I Could Sing: Selected Poems (Kwela, 2002)
"Without ideas forged in the clash of opposition - there is no way forward. The Battle of Ideas is a must do event."
Lynne Featherstone MP, Liberal Democrats