Episode 24: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo, Blue Flower Arts

“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.” Description found here.

The Spoilers are back with a love-fest episode for the ages. Beginning with an profession of gratitude and love for our own faithful host, we then tackle questions of genre, religion, bilingualism and translation, sexuality, the body, refusal, performance, and finding your voice — all in an amazingly supportive and affectionate way. Inspired by Acevedo’s beautiful book, we remember fondly our own teen years, consider the lives of teens today, celebrate the strength and empowerment of women, and repeatedly express our admiration for Xiomara, Twin, and Aman. If I may say so, this episode is a joy to listen to, and may, in some small way, make you forget everything about the world right now that is making you want to weep uncontrollably. You’re welcome, America. Enjoy.

What the spoilers are reading, watching and listening to + other things we mention in the episode!

What We’re Reading, watching and listening to: 
  • Crystal:  Project Power (film, 2020)
  • Adriana: Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women and Queer Radicals by Saidiya Hartman
  • Todd: Capone (film); Beging Again, Eddie Glaude; Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, Isabel Wilkerson; The New Territory, Issue 9
  • Anita: WAP (YAS!); Arrested Justice: Blck Women, Violence, and America’s Prision Nation, Beth Ritchie (Part of Abolitionist Bookclub at Boneshaker Books); Are Prisons Obsolete? Angela Davis
Books mentioned during the episode:
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
  • Thomas and Beulah, Rita Dove

Video of the opening audio: 

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