The three poems you are responsible for each deal with ideas of ancestry in some form. While Knight wrote his poem in the late 1960s from prison, Patricia Smith is a poet who is writing now. Although both write in the lyric tradition, Knight’s poem is more of a personal lyric, while both of Smith’s poems are persona poems. Choose one question below to which to respond.
1. How do you see these poets responding to and complicating the idea of ancestry? Put their work in conversation with each other around the idea of ancestry. You can also think about how these poems bear witness to ancestry. What questions do you have about these poems? Use evidence to support your viewpoint and pose two debatable questions.
2. How can we understand these three poems as protest poems? What do they seem to be protesting and what poetic conventions are particularly important to their protest? What questions do you have about these poems? Use evidence to support your viewpoint and pose two debatable questions.
3. Open: Develop your own question around which to discuss these three poems.