Every poem is a blow against silence. ~ Carlos Fuentes


“This is for the unforgettable… 

the ones who survived America by any means necessary. 

And the ones who didn’t.” 

Kwame Alexander’s book THE UNDEFEATED is an ode to the African American experience, a book-length poem with illustrations by Kadir Nelson that will leave you breathless.

THE UNDEFEATED is both ageless and utterly of the moment, as we as a nation wrestle again and again with the worth of Black lives. 

It’s impossible to turn the pages without names coming to mind:  Daunte Wright, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd… and many more.

Stephen Fry writes in his book The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within, “Deriving from odein, the Greek for to chant, the ode is an open form of lyric verse made Public Monument.”

Public Monument.

A monument, a history book, a cry of urgency and celebration, THE UNDEFEATED belongs on every bookshelf in America. 

On Fridays, I love taking part in Poetry Friday when I can, where writers share their love of all things poetry. This week, Jama hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup today at Jama’s Alphabet Soup. Check out the feast of poetry there today.


  1. Linda Mitchell says:

    Yes and amen. I have this book in my middle school library…now all I need is students. I’ve been highlighting books in morning announcements all year. Virtual is OK but nothing like face to face interaction. Soon, I hope we can meet with students soon!

  2. lindabaie says:

    I have this book, too, Mary. It is both inspiring and one I wish everyone could read, learn from, enjoy its power. Events now and in the past continue to be heartbreaking.

  3. laurashovan222 says:

    Thank you for sharing this powerful book, Mary. I didn’t know that the word “ode” had a connection to “chant.” That makes me think of the chants for justice we are hearing at protests.

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