The Poet X is an incredible book. It’s a novel told through the poems of the main character, Xiomara, a Latin-American teen living in a Harlem neighbourhood. We’re taken on a journey of coming of age. Xiomara is questioning her Catholic faith, which is very dear to her mother. She’s starting to catch feelings for a guy. Even though she’s tough on the outside, she’s mellow inside and her beautiful poetry is a testament to this, even though she doesn’t let anyone read or listen.
I have only good things to say about this book. First of all, the format is quite fresh. It’s not the first time we’re told a story through diary or journal entries, but this book takes it on a new level. The poems are given attention, they’re polished, they have form and they vary appropriately to show story and character.
Reading the poems, I’ve cried several times. The poems that touched me the most were her relationship with her mother, and how the change of faith in her religion has affected the relationship drastically. It’s as if Xiomara is actually the author and I’m reading a non-fiction poetry collection about her life. Too real, too touching. Authentic in a way I could relate to. And the way she finds a voice in her poems—it teaches us the true power of poetry and its necessity to our psyche.
There’s not enough high-praise I can do for this book. It just might be the best book I’ve read yet. I strongly recommend this; it’s quite empowering and can only imagine the strength of the impact it will have on younger people. Writers, especially poets, should not skip on reading this either. It’s the kind of book I’d reread and want to have permanently (as I do) on my shelf.