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Personal Correspondence, 1983

Throughout his life, Knight kept correspondence with people he met from across the country, whether it was students he met after speaking at university or fellow poets who ran in tangential circles. Knight also kept in touch with people he met through his prison workshops.

This letter is from an inmate named John Paul Minarik telling Knight how much he appreciated and gained from one of Knight’s Free People’s Poetry Workshop sessions. They kept a correspondence for several years, and Minarik would even send Knight drafts of his poems for feedback, which Knight provided. This letter--and the others like it--is a testament to how Knight fought to build community and how much of himself he was willing to share with others.

For Knight, his Free People’s workshops were not one-and-done events, but instead something which connected him to others who were in situations he was familiar with. Through his correspondence, he continued to explore the formative role prison played in his life while also showing those he kept in touch with that they were more than simply “prisoners”: they were writers.

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