The Poet X

THE POET X


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.

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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. When she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she knows that she could never get around Mami’s rules to attend, 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.

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  • HarperTeen
  • Hardcover
  • March 2018
  • 365 Pages
  • 9780062662804

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$17.99

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About Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth AcevedoElizabeth Acevedo is the daughter of Dominican immigrants.  She holds a BA in performing arts from the George Washington University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Maryland. The Poet X is her debut novel. She lives with her partner in Washington, DC.

Author Website

Praise

“The force and intensity behind her words practically pushes them off the page, resulting in a verse novel that is felt as much as it is heard. This is a book from the heart, and for the heart.”New York Times Book Review

“Crackles with energy and snaps with authenticity and voice.”Justina Ireland, author of Dread Nation

“Acevedo has amplified the voices of girls en el barrio who are equal parts goddess, saint, warrior, and hero.”Ibi Zoboi, author of American Street

Discussion Questions

Silence

1. How does Xiomara reckon with her own silence? Have you ever felt silenced? Why or why not?

2. What does it mean to “hold a poem in the body”? Do you think you have words living inside of you? What words are they?

3. What are the rules, implicit and explicit, that Xiomara identifies her mother having for her? Are they different than rules her mother sets for other people? Why or why not?

4. How does Xiomara feel about her brother being gay? How does she think her silence affects Twin? Have you ever stayed silent and wished you hadn’t? How can you speak up in your own life?

5. How does silence protect Xiomara? How does Xiomara’s silence harm the people she is closest to? How do her words free her?

Bravery

1. What is it about writing that makes Xiomara feel brave?

2. How does Xiomara’s relationship with writing change her relationship with her mother over the course of the novel? Why do you think her writing affects her relationship with her mother? What about church and spirituality—how does X compare and contrast religion (prayer) and poetry?

Voice

1. What is it about writing that makes Xiomara feel brave?

2. Why does Xiomara feel as though “[her] words are okay” when she is in Ms. Galiano’s class, but not when she is with other people or in other places (p. 264)? Do you have a place where your words feel more or less safe? What makes a person or a place feel safe?

3. Have you ever heard a poem or song or seen a movie that made you feel seen?

4. Why does Xiomara call poetry club a prayer circle? Do you think that writing can be healing? Do you think art can be healing?