“Apology for Apostasy” 1968
In “Apology for Apostasy,” Knight, the Artist, inserts himself in his Art in a moment of communal inspiration. He transforms his frustration at a critique of his mentor, Gwendolyn Brooks--whom a white critic did not believe could write with enough universality to make the audience forget she was a Black woman—and allows that frustration to inspire the emotional heart of the work.
Further, Knight’s familiarity and friendship with Brooks compelled him to make up an imaginative poem, both honoring his mentor and deconstructing the idea of universality, a notion Knight pursued throughout his career. The poem’s impact, in turn, was profound: he
received a Shelley Award for the piece in 1985.