Etheridge Knight (1931-1991) was an African-American poet born in 1932 in Corinth, MS. His 1968 debut volume, Poems from Prison, about his eight-year jail sentence for a 1960 robbery, helped him to break into the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 70s. While in prison, he also finished a second volume, including both original works and those of fellow inmates, entitled Voce negre dal carcere (Black Voices from Prison) which was first published in Italy before making its way to the United States.
In 1990, Knight earned a bachelor’s degree in American poetry and criminal justice from Martin Center University in Indianapolis. He also taught at the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Hartford, and Lincoln University, before retiring due to a diagnosis of lung cancer. His numerous accolades include Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award nominations for Belly Song and Other Poems, as well as fellowships and prizes from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment of the Arts, the Poetry Society of America, and MacDowell.
Photo by Nancy Crampton