33 pages 1 hour read

Kwame Alexander

The Undefeated

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 2019

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Literary Devices


“The Undefeated” relies on repetition, particularly anaphora, which uses words that either replace or refer to words in previous lines. Almost every section of the poem begins with “This is for” followed by the people that section is dedicated to. After the people are referenced, Alexander begins the next line with the word “who” and then describes the things those people did.

The repetition gives the poem a united structure, and it also contributes to the poem’s ode-like structure.

Additionally, Alexander uses repetition for emphasis. This is most apparent in the three pages that repeat the line “This is for the unspeakable.” The emphasis of this line acts like exclamation points, drawing the reader’s attention to the powerful line and causing it to stand out from the rest of the poem.

Later, Alexander also uses repetition when he names various athletes. The lines repeat the same structure with the article “the” followed by the athletes’ names. The point here is to build the strength of the thematic point Alexander is making. The repetition of names is like the placing of bricks when building a wall. Each brick is strong on its own, but it does not build anything.