Letter of Recommendation, 1984

Knight wrote this letter of recommendation on behalf of John Paul Minarik. It was included as part of Minarik’s application for commutation. It is a very sweet letter, and in it Knight writes that he and Minarik are colleagues because they are both poets, but also that they are colleagues on “another, deeper level: we are both ‘prison poets.’” Knight goes on to discuss how he credits poetry (and considering himself a poet) as the driving factor in finding a life and meaning beyond simply being a prisoner.


He closes the letter by saying that he has seen Minarik grow as a person and as a poet and, crucially, that Minarik would have a community that supports him. Knight writes: “Also, like I had, John Paul has some good friends in the poetry community who are willing to help support him. Me, for one.” Knight’s continued interaction with prisons and prisoners was not only because it was just what he knew; for Knight, his mission was to use his own experiences to help others grow and work toward a better life.

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