Etheridge Knight Poems

Etheridge Knight was an American poet born in 1931. His early life was marked by his military career and later incarceration for robbery. He began writing poetry in prison and is remembered as one of the most important African American poets of his day. 

Hard Rock Returns to Prison

by Etheridge Knight

‘Hard Rock Returns to Prison’ is an allegory of oppression and forced submission of Black inmates in America.

Ethridge Knight is known for writing powerful and emotionally charged poetry that often dealt with the experiences of African Americans, particularly those who had been incarcerated. His poetry is often categorized as part of the Black Arts Movement, a literary movement of the 1960s and 1970s that focused on celebrating and promoting Black culture and political activism.

Hard Rock / was / “known not to take no shit

From nobody,” and he had the scars to prove it:

Split purple lips, lumbed ears, welts above

His yellow eyes, and one long scar that cut

The Idea of Ancestry

by Etheridge Knight

‘The Idea of Ancestry’ by Etheridge Knight is concerned with family relationships and how important being with those you’re related to is. 

This is certainly one of the poet's best poems and is highly related to his life.

Taped to the wall of my cell are 47 pictures: 47 black

faces: my father, mother, grandmothers (1 dead), grand-

fathers (both dead), brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts,

cousins (1st and 2nd), nieces, and nephews. They stare

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