Etheridge Knight

1931–1991
Etheridge Knight

Given the facts of his life, it’s remarkable that Etheridge Knight wrote any poetry. After dropping out of school in Kentucky in the eighth grade and serving as a medical technician in Korea, where he suffered a shrapnel wound, he became addicted to drugs and alcohol, turned to crime, and in 1960 went to prison for robbery. Inspired there by the words of Malcolm X and Langston Hughes, however, he began to write, and by his release in 1968 was a published poet. Along with his wife Sonia Sanchez he became a key figure in the Black Arts Movement, and continued to create original verse that told blunt truths and shared a hard-earned wisdom.

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