33 pages 1 hour read

Kwame Alexander

The Undefeated

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 2019

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Related Poems

The Weary Blues” by Langston Hughes (1925)

One of Hughes’s most famous poems, “The Weary Blues” is a poem about a Black blues player in a bar in the 1920s. The poem is both a beautiful depiction of the man playing the blues as well as a powerful metaphor for what life was like for a Black man in this time. The poem is written in a unique free verse style that swings between the poem and the blues singer’s lyrics, and it makes use of many poetic devices like onomatopoeia, irony, and rhyme. Alexander alludes to this poem in “The Undefeated.”

We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks (1959)

Another poem Alexander alludes to, this famous short jazz poem by Gwendolyn Brooks highlights issues of rebellion and social disillusion. The poem depicts a group of boys at a pool hall and is written from their perspective using the first-person plural pronoun “we” at the beginning of each sentence. In the poem, the boys describe what they are doing, including playing pool and drinking, but at the end of the poem, there is a moment of realization when the boys say, “We die soon.” While the poem is short and relatively simple, its use of striking rhymes and repetition, and its social relevance to youth counterculture in the 1950s has made it an enduring picture of the period.