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Knight on His Writing Style and Process, ca. 1986

This note was written as part of a larger document to help explain how Knight got his start as a poet. He describes the euphoria he felt after getting his first acceptance letter for a poem he submitted, writing: “And the feeling that swept through me after reading the ‘acceptance’ letter was something kin to exaltation, a serious joy and pride...I was having a poem published; people would read it; I was somebody.”

Knight describes how that acceptance letter, received four or five years before he was released, fundamentally changed how he viewed his life and his time in prison. “As I struggled with the language and the discipline of poetry,” Knight writes, “I was forced to re-examine, and re-structure, my relationships: with myself, with family and friends, with society, and with nature/god. Poetry demands change. And poetry and change are difficult in prison.” He includes a short stanza that highlights the suffocating nature of prison.

This artifact stands out especially knowing what we do now: that Knight would make a career out of poetry; that he would find a community and some level of success; that for however much his experience in prison followed him for the rest of his life, he never let it fully define him.

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