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.
I have to say I’m pretty wary of slam poetry publications as sometimes the rhythm that is vital to it’s beauty just doesn’t translate. So a whole novel written in slam poetry had me pause for a second, but then everyone spoke so very highly about it. I am so glad I gave it a go!
The poetry is so evocative you can practically hear it in you your head as you go along. It is such a unique way to present a story and in this case perfect and powerful way. Each verse flows in format and style as does Xiomara’s mood and attitude. I especially liked the page of haiku’s. There are about 4 passages of prose that represent her homework assignments.
I wasn’t really expecting the powerful punch that some of the poems hit with bringing me to tears on multiple cases. Nor did I realise just how succinctly you can tell a story within constantly shifting verse. I will say the abuse that Xiomara is inflicted from her mother also caught me by surprise, I didn’t expect it to be so violent in that manner. I loved the topics though of defining our own story, the way boys are treated differently and that never ending cycle of teenage rebellion.
This was a powerful book which has me eager to read more of Acevedo’s work.
I give The Poet X:
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo was published on 6 March 2018 by Harper Collins. You can purchase your own copy at Mighty Ape, Whitcoulls, Booktopia, Unity Books, or wherever you like to purchase books.