A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.
Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.
But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.
So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.
Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.
“Burn it! Burn it. This is where the poems are,” I say, thumping a fist against my chest. “Will you burn me? Will you burn me, too?”The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo
I’ve heard of this book and the author for years but I haven’t picked anything yet until recently because of a readathon’s prompt suggestion. I also haven’t read a ton of poetry or novels written in verse so I’ve always been in a search for these kinds of books that would cater to my tastes. So basically, The Poet X is a book that is full of things I don’t normally gravitate towards in books, but I surprisingly loved every bit of it.
I actually really enjoyed my time with this book, and it also helped so much that I read it alongside the audiobook because it just had a very different feel and intensity to it that really brought out all the emotions of each of the poems. It was also a surprising fact that the author herself narrated the audiobook, especially as she is a noted slam poetry artist. Her way of projecting her words in her performance translated so beautifully in its audiobook format, hence it felt like you were both watching the scenes in the book before your eyes and also watching a live slam poetry reading.
This book showcased a coming-of-age story about a young Black Hispanic woman struggling to find out who she is while being shackled by her family, religion, and community, but turns to writing poetry as her means of escape. Xiomara’s story was both engaging and moving because it obviously portrays a lot of things that people her age had gone through or currently going through, such as discovering their needs and wants, finding their first love, family conflict, and a whole lot of questioning and curiosity about life. The conflicts that arose through the story were also something to take note of, and while each of it broke her in many different ways, it also provided opportunities that turned into something so much better than what she had expected.
The Poet X just spoke so many things that really packed a punch, and I loved every bit of it – including all the joy, tears, and a crazy jumble of different emotions that it came along with.
This will definitely not be my last Elizabeth Acevedo book that I will read.
About The Author
ELIZABETH ACEVEDO is a New York Times bestselling author of The Poet X, With the Fire on High, and Clap When You Land. Her critically-acclaimed debut novel, The Poet X, won the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. She is also the recipient of the Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Fiction, the CILIP Carnegie Medal, and the Boston Globe-Hornbook Award. Additionally, she was honored with the 2019 Pure Belpré Author Award for celebrating, affirming, and portraying Latinx culture and experience.
Her books include, Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths (YesYes 2016), The Poet X (HarperCollins, 2018), & With The Fire On High (HarperCollins, 2019), and Clap When You Land (HarperCollins, 2020).
She holds a BA in Performing Arts from The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. Acevedo has been a fellow of Cave Canem, Cantomundo, and a participant in the Callaloo Writer’s Workshops. She is a National Poetry Slam Champion, and resides in Washington, DC with her love.