Knoxville, Tennesee Topics for Further Study
by Nikki Giovanni

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Topics for Further Study

(Poetry for Students)

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When this poem was first published in 1969, racial tensions in America were at their height. Explain how you think a white author would have handled the situation described in this poem differently.

The reference to going “to the mountains” in line 18 refers to old spiritual songs. Research African-American spiritual music and find some songs that refer to mountains. Then, explain the significance of this symbol.

The foods that Giovanni lists in this poem are traditional Southern foods. Make a list of things that the poem’s speaker would remember fondly if she had spent her childhood summers in some other part of the country.

Write a response poem, using the same voice and style used here, that explains what this poem’s speaker does during the winter.