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Last updated: 21 december, 2009 - 17:52 GMT

From Prison to Poetry

Don Mattera

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Donato Francisco Mattera - known as the Don - may be a respected South African activist and poet, but his past is littered with violence.

In his youth Don Mattera was a gang leader in Sofiatown, ending up in prison after fights with fists, knives and guns and even shooting a policeman.

As a political activist taking on the apartheid regime in the 1970's, he became a founding member of the Black Consciousness movement and joined the ANC Youth League.

He was detained, his house was raided, and he says he was tortured more than once.

During this time his writing was banned by the South African government and he spent three years under house arrest.

Earlier in 2009 Don toured the UK with the South African Poet Laureate, Keorapetse Kgositsile, reading his poetry to audiences in a number of cities.

Don Mattera talked to Matthew Bannister about his life and described how he became a poet.

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