The Poet X [#Blackathon 2019]

Posted by on February 5, 2019 in What Pooks is Reading | 2 comments

The Poet X

by Elizabeth Acemedo.

What a beautiful, painful, stunning book.

Yet a book where pain doesn’t always win.

I was hesitant to read it at first because of it being written in blank verse. I needn’t have been. I’m embarrassed, actually, that I knew of it for so long and yet held back, and it took a readathon to get me to go ahead and give it a chance. But isn’t that why we participate in readathons? Not just to fill in ticky-boxes on a list, but to find new books, new voices, to love?

Listening to it as an audiobook, it was just wonderful writing, no different from prose.

Since I borrowed the audiobook from the library, I may get this one from Audible, and buy the print too, so that I’ll own both versions. Yes, this is one of those books that I go buy in both ways after listening to it.

Because now I want to own it in print so that I can see how the words lay on the page and sound in my head as I read them. Feel where the emphasis falls when processed through my heart instead of

Like this. I want to see how it is written, not because it will make it better but because I love it so, and want to see the fullness of what it was meant to be. Spoken and written.

“Late into the night I write and the pages of my notebook swell from all the words I’ve pressed onto them. It almost feels like the more I bruise the page the quicker something inside me heals.”


This may be the way it was written. It’s the way the quote is on Goodreads.

“My brother was born a soft whistle:
quiet, barely stirring the air, a gentle sound.
But I was born all the hurricane he needed
to lift – and drop- those that hurt him to the ground.”

Xiomara [see-oh-mah-rah] is a teenaged girl in a voluptuous woman’s body in a world where strangers on the New York subway feel free to grab her ass and shout crude offers to her.

Xiomara’s a disappointment to her devout Catholic mother whose on dreams back in the Dominican Republic got left behind, who tries to force Xiomara into those same dreams, thinking they will save her.

Xiomara needs a place where she can be her true self even though she doesn’t know what that self is. She needs people who appreciate her for what and who she is rather than see her as they’ve always seen her and judge her the same.

Xiomara’s a poet and doesn’t know it.

“And I cant trust this world to teach their sons how to treat my daughter. So I will raise her to be a sword, a spear, a shield” ― Elizabeth Acevedo. Performed during prelims at the 2014 National Poetry Slam in Oakland, California. [photo source]

The audiobook is read by the author, Elizabeth Acemedo, an Afro-Dominican performer and poet. Obviously her voice is particularly authentic and powerful. Authors aren’t always the best narrators/readers, but she nails it, of course.

This is a good story, one that resonates far beyond its world. I highly recommend it.

This is the first book I’ve read for #blackathon, and it’s the group book that everyone reads together. It’s not to late to join in! Also, this isn’t a strict thing. Read what you want, skip what you want–just use this month to find new black stories and voices. I give you all the links and details here!



  1. sounds like a touching book

    • Touching, but also harsh, razor’s edge attitudes, vibrant, and rich with the Dominican culture. The quotes that spoke to me to save were poetic and perhaps touching, but Xiomara has a lot of rage and sass, too!

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