The Poet X is an amazing book that cleverly explores the verse-novel form. I love poetry and verse-novels both, but this could convert a non-believer. Xiomara Batista and her twin Xavier live with their mother and father who are immigrants from the Dominican Republic.
Their mother works two jobs, goes to Mass every day and keeps a strict eye on Xiomara, who is not allowed to date. Their father is around without really being there for them and only a kind teacher Ms. Galiano, who runs the poetry club, and Aman, a boy Xiomara is attracted to, give Xiomara any happiness.
But as her relationship with Aman and her interest in slam poetry burgeon, Xiomara and her religious mother are heading for conflict. Xiomara’s name means ‘one who is ready for war’ and Xiomara finds a voice to fight for what she believes in.
The poetry here is fluent and expressive, with vivid descriptions of Xiomara’s neighbourhood, friends, church and school and the narrative unfolding naturally through verse. I especially loved the poem Xiomara writes for her mother in both Spanish and English:
Tu silencio amuebla una casa oscura.
Pero aun a riego de quemarse,
la mariposa nocturna siempre busca la luz
Your silence furnishes a dark house
But even at risk of burning
the moth always seeks the light
Acevedo is a star of slam poetry herself and you can find many videos of her performing on YouTube.
Here she is with AfroLatina