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Perspectives are commentaries produced by and for WNIJ listeners, from a panel of regular contributors and guests. You're invited to comment on or respond to any Perspective on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@wnijnews), in keeping with our Discussion Policy. If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, send us a script that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 250 words -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu, with "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Perspective: Muhammad Ali, Poet

John Stango, Artist
Portrait of Muhammad Ali with American flag (detail)

William Carlos Williams was a doctor who was also a great poet.

Bob Dylan was a singer who was also a fine poet.

Muhammed Ali was a great boxer who was also a notable poet.

Before his historic matches Ali would intone, "If you want to lose your money/Then place your bets on Sonny." Or "Richard Nixon has resigned/And I'll whip Foreman's behind." He won both those matches against Sonny Liston and George Foreman.

The rhyming of "money" and "Sonny" is an accident, and so is that between "resigned" and "behind." But poets take accidental linguistic coincidences and turn them into a powerful destiny.

Ali in his verse made it seem as though Fate had mandated he would win his matches. He usually did. Bob Dylan got the Nobel Prize for his poetry. I'll give Muhammed Ali a belated McBride Prize for his.

I'm Tom McBride; that's my Perspective on the side.