South African poet and former political prisoner Dennis Brutus, 85, died in his sleep yesterday at his home in Cape Town, said his publisher, Chicago-based Haymarket Books.

Mr. Brutus was an antiapartheid activist who was jailed at Robben Island with Nelson Mandela in the mid-1960s. His activism led Olympic officials to ban South Africa from competition from 1964 until apartheid ended nearly 30 years later.

Exiled from South Africa in 1966, Mr. Brutus later moved to the United States and taught literature and African studies at Northwestern University and the University of Pittsburgh.

Over the years, he wrote more than a dozen collections of poetry, including two while imprisoned. - AP