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Etheridge Knight was an African-American poet who became a notable poet in 1968 with his debut volume, Poems from Prison. Biography Etheridge Knight was born on April 19, 1931 in Corinth, Mississippi. He was one of seven children in a poor family, and only completed a ninth-grade education. Spending many of his adolescent years working in pool halls, bars, and juke joints, he mastered the art of "telling toasts". Toasts are long narrative poems coming from an oral tradition which are performed from memory and with spirit. This environment honed his poetic experience, however, it also introduced him to drugs. He became addicted to drugs at an early age. He joined the U.S. Army, serving as a medical technician in the Korean War.he was discharged from service in 1951, after suffering from a shrapnel wound that caused him to fall deeper into his drug addiction. After his time in the Army he settled in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he picked up the art of telling toasts, which are traditional, black, oral narrative poems acted out in a theatrical manner. During this time, he still maintained his addiction to heroin. Arrested in Indianapolis for stealing a purse in 1960, Knight was imprisoned for eight years. He recounts this experience in verse in Poems from Prison and in prose in the anthology Black Voices from Prison (1970; originally published two years earlier in Italian as Voce negre dal carcere). He emerged as the voice of the black aesthetic mo..

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