“Do Not Partake of the Abundance”– Amy Spanel, 1986

Amy Spanel, who was acquainted with both Knight and Gwendolyn Brooks, wrote this poem for the poetic giants in 1986. Spanel describes flower-picking resistance as an act of friendship, and like “Apology for Apostasy,” “Do Not Partake of the Abundance” describes community through the interplay of influence.

Knight, whose mentor was Brooks, inspires Spanel to make up the poem, and their mutual connection to Brooks drives the emotional center of the poem. All three have their own concerns; for Brooks, age and moving on in her career; for Knight, age and addiction; for Spanel, fertility and her restrictive upbringing. Spanel revels in the momentary alleviation of fear and suffering through floral gestures of love and friendship: she remembers the many bouquets in Brooks’ office at the Library of Congress, and picks a bunch of fuzzy pink flowers to give to Knight. Here is a community based not only around poeting, but also flower arrangements.

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