Reginald Dwayne Betts
Feeling Fucked Up: The Architecture of Anger
 
 

Eleanor Wilner once asked me if I knew the poetry of Etheridge Knight.  Most famously known for his prison poems, Knight remains under taught and under known – despite numerous books, awards, a festival to his name, and a very distinctive and memorable poetic voice.  But I knew of the man and his work.  Happenstance had brought Knights’ poems “For Freckle Faced Gerald,” “Hard Rock Returns from the Hospital for the Criminally Insane,” and “Dark Prophecy: I Sing of Shine” to me while I sat in a solitary cell. I can think of no more fitting an introduction to a writer whose career is listed as serving as Writer-In-Residence at the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Hartford, Lincoln University and serving as an inmate at the Indiana State Prison. Wilner told me of a poetry reading at a women’s prison where Etheridge read his poem “Feeling Fucked Up.” And then was asked to read it again. And then was asked to read it again, and again until he’d read the poem ten times. There is a beauty in having a group of women so understand what you are saying that they ask you to say it again.

 

“The glass chose to reflect only what he saw/ which was enough for his purpose”[1] go two lines in Ashbery’s masterpiece “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror.” Ashbery’s poem does many things, among them using Francesco Parmigianino’s self portrait to get at the dualism that drives the great artist: aware of what knowing oneself can reveal and afraid of what knowing oneself can reveal.  In the hands of Ashbery, Francesco’s portrait offers us the courage of revelation, and the honesty of wanting to hold back (the hand that threatens to obscure the entire image). Quintessential Etheridge Knight is a man staring into a convex mirror and translating, via the lyric “I,” what is not completely evident to him.  Because of this, the anger that often drives his poems is a part of a larger architecture, a way to move through the fear of not speaking to the honesty of what cannot always be said.

 

 Etheridge Knight’s “Birthday Poem” finds him alone on his forty-fourth birthday. There is no movement in these twenty-seven lines. The first seven lines of Knight’s poem epitomize this well:

                        The sun rose today, and

                                The sun went down

                                Over the trees beyond the river;

                                No crashing thunder

                                Nor jagged lightning

                                Flashed my forty-four years across

                                The heavens. I am here.

                                I am alone. [2]

 

In these lines there is little more than a man confronting his own aloneness. He writes, “I lean against a gravestone and feel/ the warm wine on my tongue.” He writes, “And I ain’t never stopped loving no/one // O I never stopped loving no/one.”  Knight’s anger is never without source, and here, the source is recognition that somehow living has driven him into a kind of solitary confinement. It’s never explicitly stated, but it’s there. The poem: all of a moment where a man sits in a graveyard drinking wine on his birthday.  Everything that drives the undercurrent of anger here is hidden.  The poetic tying of death and birth is less important than the human drama of a man celebrating near a tombstone. This poem is a man alone with himself learning, “the stars mock me/ and the moon is my judge.” In her essay “Staying News: A Defense of the Lyric,”[3] Joan Aleshire leans on Stephen Yesner[4] for the useful distinction between “gossip (fact, data, raw material)” and “gospel (parable, pattern, truth).” Aleshire argues that a poem relying more on gossip than gospel, “places a demand on the reader’s indulgence rather than helping the reader see as the poet does.”[5] All emotion is, in the end, rhetoric. The poet W.H. Auden has said, “Great art is clear thinking about mixed feelings.” “Birthday Poem,” like much of Knight’s best work, is a self-portrait created with this dictum in mind.

 

When he most effectively used anger, Knight’s verse was at turns a shout; a machete scream; and, the sound of a cell door closing that leaves the eyes of another squinted into small slits.  Unfortunately, the appreciation of Knight’s verse has often, incorrectly, been understood as a corollary of his personal narrative. Born in Corinth, Mississippi in 1931, Etheridge Knight may be most known for his being a prison poet.  As a soldier in the Korean War, Knight received shrapnel wounds. Later treatment worsened a drug addiction that began with his military tour.  Years later, incarcerated in the Indiana State Penitentiary for burglary, Knight would begin seriously writing poetry and sending poems to Gwendolyn Brooks and Dudley Randall.  It’s amazing to think about now, but his first book, Poems from Prison, was published by Dudley Randall and sold for a dollar and seventy-five cents.  Later, Belly Song, Born of a Woman, and The Essential Etheridge Knight would cement Knight’s reputation as a poet, garnering him two NEA Fellowships, a Guggenheim Award, the American Book Award and other honors.  Still, despite his many accolades Knight was plagued by drug and alcohol addiction to his last days.  In an interview with Charles Rowell, the editor of Callaloo, Knight said, “Let me tell you something. I have no secrets, no private life…. If I don’t poet, then I am a thief because that’s what I was doing before I was poeting.”[6]  Knight’s life was filled with angst and anguish that filtered into his poetry; the emotions manifested as a hard-edged wisdom and demonstrate how anger can be conveyed with intentionality through poetic decision, as opposed to solely as a consequence of subject. Maybe more to the point, Knight’s work demonstrates how anger can be a bridge to the poetic moment that allows the private of one life to enlarge and enliven the way a reader experiences some aspect of the world.

In Knight’s prison poems you find a visceral kind of pain – and a focusing on the confinement.  Poems like “He Sees Through Stone” and “The Ideas of Ancestry” display this obsession with the sadness that confinement inspires.  In some of his earliest prison poems you see the control of poetic decision on display.  Knight did not approach poetry as a place for brilliant accidents.  Instead he made use of rhetoric, figurative language and syntax to articulate a complicated truth.  Later in his interview with Dr. Rowell, Knight talks about the conception of his poem “For Freckled Faced Gerald:”

 

I was lying in my cell reading one night, when all the guys came in. I had been working on the prison newspaper and had gotten off work early. When they came in, the word came that a young brother had been raped in the prison laundry by some older cons. At the time I was reading James Baldwin’s Another Country. You remember that in the novel Rufus commits suicide. I got a little angry. Here was this young brother-only sixteen and in prison. Also, at the same time he came into the joint, there were about five or six youngsters in there. But he was the youngest.  There was also a young white boy from Indianapolis who had burglarized some homes and shot some people. He had gotten life, too. When he came to prison, the warden made him houseboy and kept him outside the walls-protected him. But the warden put Gerald back inside the wall because he was just a nigger. I was thinking of all of that. And I was thinking about Baldwin’s character, Rufus, who committed suicide. And here was Gerald struggling to survive. (Suicide is such an uncommon thing among black people. We kill ourselves through alcohol or drugs, or we kill each other. But direct suicide is uncommon.) I wrote that poem that night. All of those things led up to it. I was trying to express what I saw happening around me and to talk about the subject of oppression.[7]

 

What is clear from Knight’s words is that he was angry at a real incident, and that in using poetry to say something about a real incident (Gerald’s rape) he understood that everything would not make it into the poem, that some information is backstory. In “For Freckled-Faced Gerald,” written while Knight was incarcerated at the Indiana State Prison, Knight employs rhyme, allusion, and metaphor to infuse this narrative of a young boy raped in prison with the nuance that such tales usually lack.  It is this nuance that allows Knight to make the poem speak to larger issues of oppression. Here is the poem in its entirety:

 

            For Freckled Faced Gerald

                Now you take ol Rufus. He beat drums,

                was free and funky under the arms,

                fucked white girls, jumped off a bridge

                (and thought nothing of the sacrilege),

                he copped out – and he was over twenty-one.

 

                Take Gerald. Sixteen years hadn’t even done

                a good job on his voice. He didn’t even know

                how to talk tough, or how to hide the glow

                of life before he was thrown in as “pigmeat”

                for the buzzards to eat.

 

                Gerald, who had no memory or hope of copper hot lips –

                of firm upthrusting thighs

                to reinforce his flow,

                let tall walls and buzzards change the course

                of his river from south to north.

 

                (No safety in numbers, like back on the block:

                two’s aplenty. three? definitely not.

                four? “you’re all muslims.”

                five? “you were planning a race riot.”

                plus, Gerald could never quite win

                with his precise speech and innocent grin

                the trust and fists of the young black cats.)

 

                Gerald, sun-kissed ten thousand times on the nose

                and cheeks, didn’t stand a chance,

                didn’t even know that the loss of his balls

                had been plotted years in advance

                by wiser and bigger buzzards than those

                who now hover above his track

                and at night light upon his back.[8]

 

“Now you take old Rufus” begins Knight’s poem, alluding to Rufus in James Baldwin’s novel, Another Country. The first ten lines of this poem are written in rhymed couplets.  These rhymes emphasize the differences between Rufus, who was “free and funky under the arms” and Gerald who “could not hide the glow of life before he was thrown in as “pigmeat.” These lines also emphasize the similarities between Rufus and Gerald: both young men were failed by the American society, both men died early, oppressed by a society that would not protect them.

 

 “For Freckled Faced Gerald” demonstrates Knight’s formal gifts. Here, as elsewhere, Knight’s formalism is understated, and, always, in service of the poem. Even as the rhyme scheme is broken in lines 11-15, it is more to emphasize the way the narrative here has broken, as we get more information about Gerald’s breaking.  By the end of the poem there are no men on Gerald’s back, but buzzards.  Moreover, Gerald’s loss “had been plotted years in advance by wiser and bigger buzzards.”  This final stanza shows Knights astuteness.  In this poem the anger is not directed inward, but rather outward.  It is more subdued, recognized more in the imagery: Gerald thrown in as “pigmeat,” Gerald being taken by “buzzards.”  Yet the anger is clear, set up with the initial characterization of Gerald as a sixteen year old kid thrown in prison and later emphasized syntactically by the parenthetical statement that reinforces Gerald’s innocent (and hopelessness): “Gerald could never quite win/ with his precise speech and innocent grin/ the trust and fists of the young black cats.”  In the end this poem is an indictment of sending immature boys into prison with adults.  Written two decades before the practice became widely practiced and criticized, Knight, in this poem, touched upon issues that would resonate long after its writing.

 

However blatant in the mind of the writer, anger is often a subtle emotion, laid bare not through an extravagance of noise, but a particularity of shaping.   Think about Cornelius Eady’s collection Brutal Imagination. There is a chilling anger that infuses the collection. This anger is captured through irony: Eady’s angered voiced narrator speaking calming of the sometimes disastrous gambit of negative stereotypes a black man must confront is a non-existent black man, is the very such manifestation of such a stereotype.  As Eady personifies the killer that Susan Smith invented he is careful to present a wise and understanding invisible man.  A man without shouts, because he is neither surprised nor particularly enraged at Smith’s invention. This strategy is a kind of hoodoo: the re-invention of an invention. But more than this, Brutal Imagination, in all its brilliance, is a testament to how anger coming from a flesh and blood black man, often, cannot be acutely articulated in a poem, or in person – because that flesh is constantly rumbling with the stereotypes their existence invokes, and the communicated anger flares but fails to inform.  In the end, Eady succeeds because he manipulates the way white America mythologizes racism, and he turns Smith’s invisible man into a thoughtful, compassionate chronicler of the obvious.  You almost cannot ignore the voice Eady offers us; and yet, it almost feels like Eady succeeds in some eyes more because his angry black man does, in fact, not exist. This in no way diminishes the true and devastating force of the collection, but makes me wonder if it allows some readers to walk away from that very visceral rage, because, ultimately, it’s source exists only in the mind of one troubled, deeply troubled white woman.

           

Often avoiding anger is a way to pretend our readers are mind readers, and will supply the emotions that we are unwilling to write into our work.  And here I make a point to differentiate between the poem that inspires (or hopes to inspire) a sense of anger as a consequence of subject matter and a poem that conveys the speaker’s anger as a result of poetic intent and decision-making.  In the essay “Uses of Anger” Audre Lorde writes, “anger is loaded with information and energy[9],” and later “anger is a grief of distortions between peers, and its object is change.[10]” The poet’s job is to shape information into action, into provocation.  In “Another Poem for Me” Knight asks himself if he will be “a lame crawling from nickel bag to nickel bag;” heasks of himself, “what now dumb nigger damn near dead;” but, more importantly these images, these questions lead Knight to “be black like/ your woman… /her hands sliding/ under sheets to take yours.”  There is a tenderness that Knight is able to get touch through the anger that he channels.  Knight’s life allowed him to access anger in a bloody, got-to-do-what-I-got-to-do-to-get-down kind of way, and his responses to violence were such that they often led to the tender counterpart of rage.  While a soldier in the Korean War he returned his gun to his Lieutenant, remarking that he could no longer participate in the war. While Lorde talks about anger and it’s uses among women, her essay speaks to the larger applications of anger in poetry.  It also speaks to the failure to use anger in service of good.  Knight’s use of anger, and Lorde’s admonishing women for their failure to use anger points to how social constructs dictate which tools we believe are available to us. 

 

To write from a place of agony is to allow the reader to see the way such a madness blossoms, and to see how such a madness shifts and disappears as it bumps against the other myriad realities found in Knight’s work. His poetry blossoms when these juxtapositions are most apparent. In “No Moon Floods The Memory Of That Night,” Knight, in part, reproduces a conversation between two lovers.  The man is doing a variation of James Brown’s Please, Please, Please in which he has an answer, something slick read in a book, for each of the woman’s concerns. Throughout the poem, the repetition of the phrase “only the rain I remember the cold rain” and the use of “and” work to signal the reader (listener) to an accretion of emotion in this poem; this use of the conjunction “and” to signal accretion is one of Knight’s methods of working anger into a poem and clearly juxtaposing it with other emotions and ideas.  In “No Moon Floods The Memory Of That Night” Knight writes:

 

                        No moon floods the memory of that night

                        only the rain I remember the cold rain

                        against our faces and mixing with your tears

                        only the rain I remember the cold rain

                        and your mouth soft and warm

                        no moon no starts no jagged pain

                        of lightning only my impotent tongue

                        and the red rage within my brain

                        knowing that the chilling rain was our forever

                        even as I tried to explain:[11]

 

In this opening stanza Knight uses “and” four times, each of which signals an accretion of the anger being expressed. Moreover, the “and” syntactically controls the manner in which the information is given to the reader, both slowing the flow of information and speeding the pace the reader uses to move from one bit of knowledge to the next.  “Only the rain I remember the cold rain/ and your mouth soft and warm (emphasis mine)” read the fourth and fifth line of Knight’s poem.  Here the accretion signals a sort of longing, but it is in the juxtaposition of these two lines with the next two lines that shape the anger: “no moon no stars no jagged pain/ of lighting only my impotent tongue.”  These details build until the madness that manifests is built into the explanation Knight’s speaker offers within the poem: “A revolutionary is a doomed man/ with no certainties but love and history.”  It is this entreaty that is madness, and the final line of the penultimate stanza reads: “’No,’ you said. And you left.” This line is both a deflating of the speaker’s begging, and a catapulting into the final stanza, filled with the anger of remorse and a loss of control:

 

                                    No moon floods the memory of that night

                                    only the rain I remember the cold rain

                                    and praying that like the rain

                                    returns to the sky you would return to me again.[12]                    

 

It is a given that poems about race in America, the Civil Rights movement, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the Vietnam War can be framed to suggest an angered speaker; yet, subject matter is not enough to make a poem of consequence, nor is it enough to do just hint at emotion. In many ways anger is akin to meanness.  It makes people uncomfortable, often leading the angered one to embarrass themselves in someway.  It is very much an emotion exercised most freely in private.  Yet, great poems may embrace anger, and one of the problems in ineffective poems is their presumption (on behalf of the poet or the poem’s speaker) of shared sentiments regarding subject. This is what allows the protest poem to be break down into a diatribe where all manner of venom is present, but real anger is missing.  Amiri Baraka’s “Somebody Blew Up America” caused a huge fervor when read at the Dodge Poetry Festival.  In October 2002 Baraka refused the call that he resign from his post as Poet Laureate in New Jersey, only to have the position abolished by Governor Jim McGreevey after legislation was passed in New Jersey explicitly allowing him to do so.  In an interview with Charles Rowell, Etheridge Knight spoke of Amiri Baraka’s growth into a political artist as natural, arguing “if you are a black artist in this country, at this time, you cannot help but be a politician.” However, Baraka’s “Somebody Blew Up America,” despite it’s venom, has no real anger.  Poets like Terrence Hayes have articulately defended the Baraka piece as relying on hyperbole and satirical posturing to convey a point – but “Somebody Blew Up America” is more a man crying or battling in the streets than a piece that crystallizes something vis a vis its clarity.  This is neither to criticize Baraka or Hayes explication of the Baraka poem, but to acknowledge that what passes as anger in poems is often something else, a posturing that works exceedingly well among poets, but would never have audiences asking the poem to be read again and again.

 

*******

 

Etheridge Knight was always aware of audience.  Not in the large – I imagine I’m talking to the world sense, but in the manner of a man telling a woman he understands he broke her heart.  Or in a man knowing he’s talking to himself, because he knows he’s trying to understand his addictions. This awareness of audience is what drives Knight’s “Feeling Fucked Up.”  This is the thing about anger – in every day life it explodes in our faces with the subtly of a rock crashing through a church’s plate glass window on during Sunday morning service. It’s unequivocal.  However, in a poem, what we’re talking about is both tone and tenor – both the shape of what is said (the emotional texture that offers cues on how to respond to what is behind the words) and the thing that is said.  It is a leap to believe that one occurs without the other.  Ellen Bryant Voigt describes tone as both the “implications suggested by the examples (within a poem)” and connects it to “clarity of purpose and inference more than with the discursive prose elements of a poem.”

Tone is often slippery to define and detect.  Listening to Knight in “Belly Song” is a lesson here:

                        this poem/ is/ for me

                                    and my woman

                                    and the yesterdays

                        when she opened

                                    to me like a flower

                        but I fell on her

                                    like a stone

                        I fell on her like a stone….[13]

 

It is in the juxtaposition of the flower with the stone where the feeling is first apparent, but the anger comes to life through the accumulation of details.  “My woman,” “the yesterdays,” “opened like a flower” all suggest a kind of regret that is fully realized as anger with the stone image.  As Knight metaphorically becomes a “stone” it is both admittance and awareness.  This is what anger in poetry confesses to: admittance and awareness. In her essay on tone, Ellen Bryant Voigt says, “the actual language, needs a context in order for its “meaning” to be clear. A dramatic or narrative (that is, discursive) context may allow us to infer tone, but inflection –a context of sound – is more dependable.”  In “Belly Song” it is through the accumulation of sound that produces song and enacts anger.  In this short passage the repetitions become more vital in terms of mapping the context and reinforcing the speaker’s response to the context.  Words without context lack meaning, but “tone,” and in these examples “anger” is a product of much more than narrative context.  Ellen Bryant Voigt has written of elements in a poem contributing to tone:

 

Simultaneous with –which is to say: any single element contributory to tone does not contain it….So any analysis of tone must include elements in  conjunction with one another.[14]

 

Etheridge’s Knights “Feeling Fucked Up” shows him mastering both the tone and texture of anger. One could argue the title is the most beautifully direct and apt title of any poem written in the English language; but, what’s more, one could argue that this poem, if any poem could ever succeed in conveying nuance of the poet’s intention without a title, is the one.  Here is Knight’s “Feeling Fucked Up:”

 

                        Lord she’s gone done left me done packed / up and split

                                and I with no way to make her

                                come back and everywhere the world is bare

                                bright bone white   crystal sand glistens

                                dope death dead dying and jiving drove

                                her away made her take her laughter and her smiles

                                and her softness and her midnight sighs –

 

                        Fuck Coltrane and music and clouds drifting in the sky

                                fuck the sea and trees and the sky and birds

                                and alligators and all the animals that roam the earth

                                fuck marx and mao fuck fidel and Nkrumah and

                                democracy and communism fuck smack and pot

                                and red ripe tomatoes fuck joseph fuck mary fuck

                                god jesus and all the disciples fuck fanon Nixon

                                and Malcolm fuck the revolution fuck freedom fuck

                                the whole muthafucking thing

                                all i want is my woman back

                                so my soul can sing [15]

 

Knight’s “Feeling Fucked Up” is both apostrophe and reversed apology. “Lord,” Knight begins, and from this moment the emotional register is raised.  This is almost prayer, and yet it is more. His first line is also and admission, an explanation, an apology for what will follow. Technically, Knight’s apology is presented in reverse order – with the reason for the speaker’s opinion about god, man and so many other things presented before those actual opinions.  Throughout this first stanza you get a juxtaposition of lines heavy with sound repetition and lines that are comparatively sparse.  This is one in which Knight is able to convey emotion through the interaction of lines.  Knight’s first line is significantly stronger than the two that follow because it sets up the dramatic situation and has a greater sonic resonance with the repetition of “done” and the assonance with the words “done” and “gone.” This is an example of rhetoric used to its fullest potential: assonance forcing, leading, cajoling the reader to hear more and therefore think more, of that first, very important, line. In the “Feeling Fucked Up” the fourth and fifth line pronounce, “bright bone white crystal sand glistens/ dope death dead dying and jiving drove” and the self indictment that is most fully conveyed; moreover, “dope, “death,” ”dead,” dying,” and “drove” all echo strongly with the dominant sounds in the first line. Again, we find Knight as a rhetorician: the sounds within this stanza create another kind of logic for the poem.  The assonance of the “o” sounds, the alliteration of the “d” sounds, and the rhymed “dying” and “jiving” call out to each other within and across the line, reinforcing the more discursive moments within Knight’s poem.

 

There is one other detail that is really important to “Feeling Fucked Up.”  It’s the most salient feature upon sight; it is the absence of punctuation.  The absence of punctuation makes timing and rhythm more dependent upon sound than usual, and as a consequence makes sound of great consequence to this poem from the very start. We pause, we slow down, we pick up our pace, we notice some lines more than others – not because of commas, exclamation marks and the like – but because of the way sound moves through this first stanza.  Of the seven lines in Knight’s opening stanza, line two is enjambed with line three and line five is enjambed with line six.  This enjambment creates a speed that works dependent of punctuation.  Also, line three is driven into line four as if juxtaposed via the use of alliteration. Even when Knight parses a line at the syntax, as in lines one and two and again at lines seven and eight, there is the conjunction “and” beginning the next line, driving it forward with only a slight hesitation and not the full stop a period would call for. Knight controls syntax here, and uses enjambment and alliteration to guide the pacing of the poem.

           

Still, ultimately the first stanza of “Feeling Fucked Up” serves as set up.  In the final stanza we have the speaker’s unraveling of rage.  This is the most purposeful use of profanity of any poem written in the English language.  But again, it is the narrative context that is crucial to how a poetic element, in this case repetition, works to establish the anger that is palpable.  This second stanza is essentially a list – and if you were to look at the list without the word “fuck” you lose both the sonic repetition, and you lose the engine that drives the list.  The disdain that the list embodies is not just embedded in the word, but is also embedded in its repetition. Moreover, notice how what would be a chaotic list otherwise, gains cohesiveness through the expletive.  What relationship does trees, sky, birds and alligators have to do with Coltrane? With Malcolm? However, here, in this poem, the stanza builds into a rejection of everything. The list is sacrilegious; it is not something you expect to hear in the public. This list incriminates the self unabashedly.

As I read her “Feeling Fucked Up” I watched her response. She smiled as I read the last two lines, because she felt how the anger became, in the end, becomes something else – becomes a drive for a spiritual fulfillment that was rejected, but also a making whole the person that was fraction when “she left me done packed/ up and split.”

 

                                                             ************

Ultimately, the use of anger in a poem is a means to an end, an acknowledging of a subtle truth: If anger is not confronted, it turns into resentment and guilt. James Baldwin calls guilt a peculiar emotion and writes, “as long as you are guilty about something, no matter what it is, you are not compelled to change it.”  Etheridge Knight’s “Feeling Fucked Up” demonstrates how anger can be structured, and in the structuring help the poet move to a place where what we all find hidden in the mirrors we stare at revealed. As “Portrait in a Convex Mirror” winds down, Ashbery writes, “withdraw that hand,/ Offer it no longer as shield or greeting.”  Francesco is incapable of withdrawing the hand, but Etheridge Knight, at his best, withdraws the hand and bares himself to the world, offering a poetry that sought to acknowledge and translate, among other things, a fierce fierce loneliness.

 

[1] Ashbery, John. Selected Poems. (New York: Penguin, 1985) p. 188.

[2] Knight, Etheridge. The Essential Etheridge Knight. (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986) p. 72.

[3] Aleshire, Joan. “Staying News: A Defense of the Lyric.” Kenyon Review, 1988: 47-64.

[4] In Aleshire’s “Staying News: A Defense of the Lyric” she refers to the distinction Stephen Yenser made between “gossip” and “gospel” in discussing Lowell’s The Dolphin. Aleshire found this discussion referenced in here: Ian Hamilton, Robert Lowell. A Life (New York: Random House, 1982), p. 432.

[5] Aleshire, Joan. “Staying News: A Defense of the Lyric.” Kenyon Review, 1988: 50.

[6] Charles H Rowell, Etheridge Knight. “An Interview With Etheridge Knight.” Callaloo 19, no. 4 (1996): 966-981.

[7] Ibid., p. 977

[8] Knight, Etheridge. The Essential Etheridge Knight. (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986) p. 19.

[9] Lorde, Audre. Zami Sister Outsider Undersong. (New York: Quality Paperback Book Club, 1993) p. 127.

[10] Lorde, Audre. Zami Sister Outsider Undersong. (New York: Quality Paperback Book Club, 1993) p. 129.

[11] Knight, Etheridge. The Essential Etheridge Knight. (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986) p. 31.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Knight, Etheridge. The Essential Etheridge Knight. (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986) p. 90.

[14] Voigt, Ellen Bryant. The Flexible Lyric. (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1999) p 84.

[15] Knight, Etheridge. The Essential Etheridge Knight. (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986) p. 34.

 
Found In Volume 41, No. 03
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Reginald Dwayne Betts
About the Author

Reginald Dwayne Betts is the author of a memoir, A Question of Freedom (Avery/Penguin 2009) and a collection of poetry, Shahid Reads His Own Palm (Alice James Books, 2010). In 2010 he was awarded an NAACP Image Award for A Question of Freedom, and a Soros Justice Fellowship to complete The Circumference of a Prison, a work of nonfiction exploring the criminal justice system’s role in the everyday lives of Americans who have not committed crimes.