The Poet XBook - 2019
From Library Staff
For those who love books in verse, you will love The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. It's story about teenager Xiomara Batista who feels both unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. She must find a way to grapple with her very religious mother who does not understand her, especially w... Read More »
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, she discovers slam poetry, and she pours all her frustration and passion ... Read More »
A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. This is the debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo, written in verse. Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever sin... Read More »
Xiomara Batista is someone who will not be silent. She is the opposite of her quiet, meek, book smart twin brother, Xavier. She struggles with the pressure of her traditional, religious mother and harassment from people at school, but she refuses to be silenced. Instead, she writes poems and is e... Read More »
IndyPL_AmyF Feb 25, 2019
The Poet X, beautifully written in verse, is an engaging coming-of- age story about high school student Xiamora Batista who is a talented poet. Xiamora’s struggles with the social and artistic limitations imposed by her strict mother are handled with sensitivity and insight. The book is dramatic ... Read More »
From the critics
AgeAdd Age Suitability
pink_panda_1782 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 13 and 25
OPL_KrisC thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over
QuotesAdd a Quote
heaving the words like weapons from my chest;
they're the only thing I can fight back with.
SummaryAdd a Summary
Review: Note: The Poet X includes physical and religious abuse, sexual harassment, and references to homophobia.
One of the best things about a novel in verse is how immediate the character’s voice can feel. Xiomara is an outstanding character who is trying to figure out how to express herself and coming to terms with the fact that what her church teaches (and her mother staunchly believes) does not reflect the world as she sees it or the way she wants to live. She is sharp, witty, and always bracing for a fight, and some of my favorite poems are the contrasts between what she wants to say and what she actually feels she can say (e.g., her homework assignments).
The Poet X is a great coming of age story. Xiomara pretty much does it all—falling in love, questioning religion, clashing with family, finding an outlet for her passion, calling out rape culture and sexism—and good times and the bad help her discover who she truly is and what she believes. Xiomara discovering and falling in love with slam poetry while we’re reading her poetry is a beautiful experience. It made me want to pull up some of my favorite Sarah Kay videos (yes, I had a slam poetry phase in my 20s) and just put them on repeat.
Even without knowing author Elizabeth Acevedo’s impressive and extensive body of slam poetry work, her love for the form was clear throughout the book. And so was Xiomara’s. I loved every time Xiomara made it to the poetry club or interacted with the other members, especially Ms. Galiano. Women mentoring other women is one of my favorite things, and having this teacher repeatedly reach out to Xiomara and encourage her talents was honestly inspiring.
But Xiomara’s story isn’t just a steady upward climb of honing her poetic talents; it touches on several more difficult topics. She is keenly aware of how much rape culture permeates her life and how much her mother buys into it and into the church’s sexism. There are some awful, painful scenes where Xiomara is punished (or insulted) for her budding sexuality and religious doubt. While there is a mostly hopeful conclusion to some of this, it left me concerned that Xiomara had only really bought herself some breathing space with her mother. (But that’s my pessimistic self.)
The romantic relationship between Xiomara and Aman is very well done, and Aman is one of the many interesting supporting characters in the book. One of the best traits a romantic lead can have, in my opinion, is consistently demonstrating a desire to listen. When Xiomara felt like she had to be silent, Aman was there, encouraging her with her poetry. (Another excellent trait is knowing when to apologize and how to make up for doing wrong.) I was also very fond of Twin (Xiomara’s twin brother, Xavier) and Caridad, as well as Ms. Galiano.
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