Kim Addonizio's poem "Knowledge" is a twenty-line free-form poem, with no rhyme scheme. Indeed, free verse has no distinct limits or rules and so does not restrict the poet to a particular format. In "Knowledge," Addonizio's narrator asks the reader to consider whether the horrors of modern life are limited in some way to the tragedies to which one has already been exposed. "Knowledge" appears in Addonizio's fourth book of poetry, What Is This Thing Called Love, published in 2004. The collection is divided into five sections, with the first devoted to love, the second to death, the third to the world, the fourth to drinking, and the fifth to no topic in particular. "Knowledge" is found in the third section.
The poem focuses on the most horrific things that take place in the world, although it does not mention any horrors in particular. Addonizio begins the poem with a lengthy dependent clause that allows the reader to slowly come to an understanding of the assertion that even though one might think one knows the depth of human cruelty and the extremes of barbarity, some events can still prove utterly appalling. As she suggests in the last line, one might remain frightened that even worse acts are yet to come. Addonizio uses the second-person "you" throughout the poem, inviting the reader in as a participant in her very personal exploration of the horrors that continue to shock the world.