"A foremost American poet in the black oral tradition, can move from pathos and a near-tragic vision of the destructiveness of imprisonment to tenderness and a lusty, incisive wit. . . . the work as a whole bears testimony anew to his authentic 'blues' voice, deep feeling, and concern for communication between the races."
"Wonderful in its ability to combine love and anger, irony and sweetness. Knight is a street-smart poet with an ear for the Black American idiom and experience, and his poems reflect a life lived largely at the cutting edge edge of that experience: poverty, racism, prison, drug addiction, and rehabilitation. Whether in the form of incantatory blues, narrative poems, or his distinctly individual urban haiku, Knight's is a compelling voice."
"To read Knight is not to escape from or to transfigure America. It really isn't a 'comfortable' experience. He is too aware of the violent spaces between races and individuals to attempt grandiloquescence. Equally he is too screwed into the mundane to attempt sleight of hand tricks. His poetry is clarified on the oilstone of experience. The sad, funky, yet celebrative sound of his 'blues' is experience being honed on the quartz grains of a grindstone."
--The Iowa Review
The Essential Etheridge Knight