To Make a Poem in Prison by Etheridge Knight

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The late, great Etheridge Knight recites his poem in this “archival remix” by Daniel Cantagallo, whose work I stumbled across on Vimeo the other night. Here’s the informative description:

It is hard to make a poem in prison, but Etheridge Knight fashioned many, and grateful he did. Born in Corinth, Mississippi, Knight was a Korean War vet who became a drug addict. Eventually put away for armed robbery, he renounced anger and committed his life to poetry while behind bars. His first volume of “Poems from Prison”, cemented his status in the Black Arts movement, and coincided with his release in 1968.

Reading is from Etheridge Knight and footage from 1966 CBS Report, “Men In Cages.”

Learn more: theparisreview.org/blog/2015/03/12/the-space-between-everything/

The link goes to a lecture on Knight by Terrance Hayes.

I was fortunate enough to attend a reading by Etheridge Knight many years ago in the intimate setting of Penn State’s Rare Books Room, which had an impressive collection of books and chapbooks from the Black Arts Movement. Knight’s reading and commentary was a crash course in the dirty dozens and the African American oral poems known as toasts, and dovetailed with my then-intense interest in the blues. Which is a long-winded way of saying I had a lot of aha moments that afternoon.

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