Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

FOR BLACK POETS WHO THINK OF SUICIDE, by         Recitation     Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

"For Black Poets Who Think of Suicide" is a poem by Etheridge Knight. It was first published in 1972 in his collection "Belly Song and Other Poems." The poem speaks about the challenges and struggles of being a black poet in America and the idea of suicide as a possible escape.


  • Form: Free verse poem Divided into four stanzas with varying line lengths.
  • Theme:  The struggles and challenges of being a Black poet in America The idea of suicide as a possible escape. The importance of finding hope and strength in one's own identity and community
  • Imagery: References to death and suicide, such as "razor's edge" and "cold bath" Images of struggle and pain, such as "broken teeth" and "poisoned blood" References to the beauty and power of black culture, such as "jazz and love" and "spirituals in the air"
  • Tone: Despairing and contemplative. Hopeful towards the end, with a sense of community and solidarity
  • Sound: Repetition of the phrase "suicide, suicide" creates a sense of obsession and desperationUse of alliteration and internal rhyme, such as "spirituals in the air" and "black poets blow horn"
  • Language: Use of slang and colloquialisms, such as "blow horn". Use of poetic and elevated language, such as "razor's edge"
  • Figurative Language: Metaphor of the razor's edge to represent the idea of suicide. Personification of black poets as a community blowing a horn
  • Structure: Free verse with no set meter or rhyme scheme. Four stanzas with varying line lengths
  • Symbolism: Black poets blowing a horn represents the power and importance of black culture and community Emotion: The poem evokes feelings of despair, desperation, and pain, but also hope and solidarity towards the end



Etheridge Knight's "For Black Poets Who Think of Suicide" is a powerful and emotional exploration of the challenges and struggles of being a black poet in America. Through the use of powerful imagery, figurative language, and repetition, Knight conveys the idea of suicide as a possible escape from the struggles of racism and oppression. However, the poem ultimately ends with a sense of hope and solidarity, emphasizing the importance of finding strength in one's own identity and community. The poem speaks to the ongoing struggles of black artists in America and the importance of their voices and contributions to the literary world.

Poem Snippet:

"Suicide, suicide

It's on my                     mind

death snarls

and rattles at my bones"

Copyright (c) 2024 PoetryExplorer

Discover our Poem Explanations and Poet Analyses!

Other Poems of Interest...

Home: PoetryExplorer.net