Letters from Gwendolyn Brooks, 1983 & 1985
Gwendolyn Brooks was one of Knight’s teachers and mentors. She was a respected elder in poetry and life who kept in contact with Knight and he credits her with improving his poetry by introducing him to haiku. Like Galloway, Brooks provided ongoing support for Knight in navigating the struggle with prison life.
The first of Brooks' letters was written after the passing of Knight’s sister, Lois “Honey” Knight. Brooks empathizes with Knight’s consuming feelings of grief, noting that she has lost many family members herself. She also writes about her own loneliness having lost her family, perhaps acknowledging Knight’s isolation in prison but reminding him of the family he still has. This letter demonstrates the poets' connection beyond their artistic and professional similarities.
In the second letter, Brooks offers encouragement and admonishes him to “HOLD ON.” The letter is brief, but it’s warm message reflects their continuing relationship as mentor-mentee.