The Poet X
By Elizabeth Acevedo
This book is the debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo. If you’ve ever been to a poetry slam, you’ll find yourself reading this book in the slam method, slamming your hands down in punctuation, sharing the feelings.
I listened to the audio book which is read by the author herself. It is great as it has such feeling and rhythm, you really get inside the characters.
Xiomara Batista is a young girl in Harlem who discovers slam poetry as a way to express herself in a world where she is dominated by her mother’s religion with little voice of her own. She is a fierce, strong girl who lets her fists talk for her.
One birthday her twin brother gives her a notebook as a place for her to write down things she has to say. Into it she pours her heart and soul, filling it with her passion. Xiomara quickly learns to keep these thoughts to herself, sure her Mami won’t understand, especially as she develops new feelings she hasn’t experienced before (read: maybe a boy!)
A teacher invites Xiomara to join the poetry slam club at school and although tempted, Xiomara is sure her Mami would never let her join. Finally, overcome by the desire to have a place to share her thoughts, Xiomara skips confirmation classes to get to the club, but when Mami finds out only trouble can follow.
Finding a balance between her Mami’s rules and her need to be heard is a difficult path for Xiomara, one she struggles with throughout this emotionally charged book. It is a quick read written in verse, one that moves fast, and moves you to rant and slam along with Xiomara.