The Poet X
by Elizabeth Acevedo
Harper Teen, 2018.
Caught between her parents’ traditional culture and values, and the present-day realities of a teen living in Harlem, Xiomara pours herself into her writing. Mami tries to corral Xiomara inside religion. Xiomara longs to perform her poems in an upcoming poetry slam. Add in Xiomara’s involvement with a boy in school, and she faces an overwhelming situation.
With encouragement from her English teacher, support from friends, and her own inner strength, Xiomara finds her way to realizing her artistic dreams.
The Poet X won the 2019 Michael L. Prinz award.
It is a beautifully written story, all in verse, with language that sometimes takes flight. Some phrases that caught me and touched my soul:
Just because your father’s present
doesn’t mean he isn’t absent.
She gives me that look again,
when someone who doesn’t know you is sizing you up
like you’re a broken clock and they’re trying to translate the ticks.
I hold on. Link my fingers with his for just a moment.
And walk to the train feeling truly thankful
that this city has so many people to hide me.
I sit wondering how writing can bring
such strange strangers into the same room.
If I were nothing but dust
would anyone chase the wind
trying to piece me back together?
Read this book. It is lyrical, deep, and prize-worthy.