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K-12 Evaluated Resource Collection

Poet X, The

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Author/Publisher/Website: Acevedo, E.
Copyright: 2018
Evaluation/Record Entry Date: May/2019
Submitting suppliers/Website: Not Available
Primary Identifier: 9780062662804
Recommended Grades and Subjects/Courses: 9-12
(View recommended grades and subjects) English Language Arts

Resource Description

Fifteen-year-old Xiomara lives in Harlam with her strict immigrant parents, but she begins to question her family and church’s expectations and beliefs as she matures physically and emotionally. She feels herself silenced and restricted, but finds her voice in a romantic relationship with a classmate and with the help of her English teacher who encourages Xiomara to share her poems through the poetry club and a slam poetry event. This novel in free verse deals with issues of religion, first love, rebellion, marginalization, puberty, sexual identity, and relationships with parents, siblings, and friends, and is suitable for a literature circle or independent novel, or as part of a poetry unit.

CURRICULUM FIT

Does the resource support BC curriculum?
Extensively
This product supports the Core Competencies of the BC curriculum:
Communication
Creative Thinking
Critical thinking
Positive Personal and Cultural Identity
Personal Awareness and Responsibility
Comments:
This novel supports the ELA curriculum from grades 9 to 12. The entire novel is written as a series of free-verse poems which follow Xiomara as she comes of age and finds her voice through spoken word poetry. Specifically, the novel supports ELA 9: stories as a source of creativity and joy, helps us understand ourselves and make connections to others, and understand different perspectives and world views through text. As well as Literary Studies 10-12: The exploration of text and story deepens our understanding of diverse, complex ideas about identity, others, and the world. The novel could also support Spoken Language 10-12: voice is powerful and evocative.

SOCIAL CONSIDERATIONS

Age:
Many of the issues in this text are a result of a generation gap between Xiomara and her parents. Her mother's strict religious parenting and her father’s aloofness could be seen as stereotypical and may need some unpacking.
Gender Roles, Identity & Sexual Orientation:
The teenagers in this text grapple with the strong role of the Catholic Church and how it dictates gender roles and sexual identity. Xiomara struggles with self-image and is reminded by her overbearing mother that her body is “trouble” and offensive as she develops and becomes a woman. Xiomara faces an internal struggle between her feelings of lust and love, and her cultural, religious, and family expectations of a “good” girl. She also lives in a neighbourhood where she is continually confronted by sexual harassment. She notes that this harassment occurs regardless of how she dresses and who she talks to. There is evidence that she has internalized sexism.
Socio Economic:
The text is set in a low-income neighbourhood in NYC’s Harlem. The usual stereotypical inner city backdrop with gang activity, drug dealers, and a high school with metal detectors and security guards are described. However, the story and main characters reflect a complexity of human experience that feels authentic and accurate.
Violence:
This text deals with issues of family violence. For example, the mother hits her daughter and her lip splits open. She also forces her to pray for extreme lengths of time while kneeling on rice as a sign of contrition. Violence is also seen as a way to defend against bullying and sexual harassment. There is also a situation where X’s bother is targeted and hit at school because he is gay. The violence is not graphically described as there is less detail and more implied violence.
Ethical:
There is some reference to underage drinking, smoking, and marijuana use, but it is not a main theme.
Language:
There is some use of language in this text, such as the occasional “shit” and “fuck”. There is also derogatory sexist language in both English and Spanish, such as “fast,” “ho,” and “cuero” (which translates to the equivalent of “slut”).
Do the social considerations support, rather than detract from, student learning?
Extensively
Social Considerations Comments:
Poet X deals with a lot of teenage issues, and does so by generally avoiding clichés, stereotypes, and offensive language. It highlights the issues that many girls and young woman confront when their bodies are changing and they face systemic sexism as played out in religion and the dominant culture. This marginalization is compounded for Xiomara since, as a woman of colour, the intersection of race and gender determine her social location. The story celebrates resistance and resilience as Xiomara finds her voice and self-worth through art.

GENERAL CONTENT

Content
Is the resource engaging?
Extensively
Is the content current for the intended curriculum and grade?
Extensively
Is the content accurate for the intended curriculum and grade?
Extensively
Is the content timely and important for student broad understandings?
Extensively
Audience:
Is the content appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
Extensively
Does the resource provide opportunities for creative and critical thinking?
Extensively
Can the content be differentiated?
Extensively
Is the level of detail appropriate?
Extensively
Is the content of particular interest to male students?
Moderately
Is the content of particular interest to female students?
Extensively
Is the language use appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
Extensively
Comments:
The text has both female and male characters and it represents a range of human emotions and universal teenage issues such as love, rebellion, marginalization, puberty, and sexual identity. Written as a series of free-verse poems, it is easy to read, and could be classified as a high-interest low-level reader. There is some Spanish in the text, but it is generally translated and does not complicate the narrative.

TECHNICAL DESIGN

Does the resource make effective use of the medium?
Extensively
Is the resource easy to use?
Extensively
Is the use of font, text size and presentation uniform?
Extensively
Comments:
Pages and sections are short, headings are bold, the text is double spaced, and the font is clear and easy to read. As well, the poems read chronologically, much like a diary.

PRINT NOVEL

Does the text show insight into the complexity of the human condition?
Extensively
Does the text broaden students’ experiences and understanding?
Extensively
To what degree is this text stylistically rich?
Extensively
Plot description:
Poet X is about a grade 10 student, Xiomara, who lives in a Harlem neighbourhood in NYC. It is written in the form of a free-verse poem from the point of view of Xiomara, who expresses her frustration as she struggles to find her voice under the close watch of an overbearing and religious mother, the gendered expectations of the Church, and the relentless sexual harassment of the neighbourhood men and high school boys. She feels silenced, but eventually learns to express herself and feel valued. She finds her voice with help from her English teacher, a positive romantic relationship with a boy her age, and through joining a school poetry club and competing in slam poetry.
Related Comments:
The Poet X was written by Elizabeth Acevedo, the daughter of Dominican immigrants to the USA. She writes from the perspective of a teen girl who is the daughter of immigrants. This is a voice that reflects the reality of many of our students and will further broaden students’ understanding and experiences. It is also a voice that is often missing from the repertoire of high school literature, and will help support the importance for all students to see themselves reflected in curriculum choices.
Genre:
Contemporary
Literary Highlights:
Complex conflict
Rich Characterization
Well-developed themes
Effective figurative language
Point of view
Type:
Novel
Poetry

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

Readability:
At intended grade level(s)
Comments:
Author Elizabeth Acevedo won the 2016 Berkshire Prize, National Book Award for Young People's Literature, and the Golden Kite Award. A teacher's guide can be found at the following link https://www.teachingbooks.net/tb.cgi?tid=58150.

SUGGESTED CLASSROOM USAGE

Comments:
Poet X could be used as a literature circle selection, an independent novel study, or as part of a poetry unit. As the novel is written in poetry, excerpts could be used to explore free verse, Haiku, and spoken word poetry. Some of the themes in the novel are religion, first love, and relationships with parents, siblings, and friends. This novel could support a thematic unit on any of those themes. As well, The Poet X offers a unique perspective as the protagonist is a daughter of immigrants from the Dominican Republic.
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