The poet Bill Knott has died, and this time it seems like it’s not a hoax. He was 74 years old and “the closest thing the American poetry establishment has to a rebel,” publishing vibrant work for decades and teaching his students awe and disappointment. Knott’s poetry was remarkably alive and inventive, surreal and controlled; he could surprise you with what his poems could do, what they could tell you about yourself. He was angry, disappointed, and critical, but he was also laughing, engaged, and invested. Richard Hell loved him. So did Denis Johnson. He inspired a lot of people, and he is already greatly missed.
Here are a few of our favorite Bill Knott poems, which not so coincidentally have some of his best last lines. The man really knew how to write an ending.