Knight seems to protest his ancestry in an almost masochistic, spiteful manner. He conveys a strong feeling of isolation and detachment from his large family; despite sharing a name with “1 grandfather, 3 cousins, 3 nephews, and 1 uncle,” he identifies himself as an outsider. In his use of strong descriptive language, Knight is able to convey a powerful response from his audience.
“They are all of me,” “I am me, they are thee,” Knight writes. He both recognizes the similarities he and his family share, and distances from them simultaneously. This is a powerful protest against what it means to belong to a family, and perhaps this is due to a deep feeling of abandonment and loneliness while in prison.
Smith approaches the protest of ancestry in a similar manner, with her use of visceral imagery (“mangled hand,” “filled with my own spit.”) Most powerfully is her use of enjambment to emphasize the skinhead’s affiliation with America; this protests what it is to be a “pure” American, while also bringing to question what it means to have pride in one’ country. Smith protests the violent nature of American culture, in the wide-spread anti-faggot/anti-nigger sentiment. Smith seems to protest the long-standing hatred Americans have for all that is “alien,” which has been perpetuated by people not unlike Smith’s skinhead persona.
- Why does Knight separate his poem with numbers?
- What is it that the flies “know” in Smith’s “Buried”?