The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

Elizabeth Acevedo Visits

Elizabeth+Acevedo+gave+a+presentation+in+the+Rotunda%2C+followed+by+a+Q%26A+section+with+students.
Elizabeth Acevedo gave a presentation in the Rotunda, followed by a Q&A section with students.

Poet Writer Shares Her Love of Words

Regina Allen and Bridgette Adu-Wadier

Elizabeth Acevedo knew she wanted to become a poet since she was about fourteen when she started performing at poetry competitions. The experience she gained from storytelling through verse was instrumental in her development into an author.

Acevedo is a writer and poetry performer. She was raised in New York City with her parents who had emigrated from the Dominican Republic. Growing up, Acevedo noticed the differences between herself and American her peers. She noticed that she led a life at home as a Dominican, and had to act another way at school around others. As a child, she felt alienated from both cultures.

Acevedo started writing when she was nine as a way to process questions or feelings she was unable to express because of her conservative parents.

“I grew up in an environment where you weren’t supposed to ask certain questions. I didn’t have a place for those questions to go.” Acevedo said.

Us girls, who never saw ourselves on bookshelves
But were still writing tales in the dark
Of black and brown girls,
Brick builders, masters of every metaphor

— excerpt from Acevedo’s performance at a presentation the Rotunda

Acevedo’s book The Poet X was published in March of this year. The protagonist, Dominican-American Xiomara Batista, has her mother pressuring her to be confirmed into the Catholic Church. However, Xiomara slowly learns that she does not believe in God the same way that her family does and is not ready to commit to strict Catholicism. She also struggles with her sexual expression, which she has been taught to suppress until marriage. This teaching gets tested once Aman, a classmate in her biology class, becomes her boyfriend. She tries to hide him from her family. The plot focuses on the crossroads Xiomara faces as her culture and American societal norms intersect. The struggle she undergoes to find her own identity is one that many readers relate to.

Acevedo said that her teaching career encouraged her to write her book. She taught an eighth-grade reading class containing many students who were several grades below reading level. She was inspired to write The Poet X by one of her students in 2012.

“I had this one student who I really loved, but she was not the strongest reader yet. She struggled with reading and did not really want to work on it,” Acevedo said. “I remember giving her all of the cool books — Twilight, The Hunger Games. Whatever was exciting at the time, I would give it to this student and she said, ‘I just feel like none of these books are about me.’”

Acevedo went out and bought several books on Latin-American literature. The student, who was not an avid reader, had finished every book Acevedo had given her. When the student asked for more books, Acevedo had no more titles left. This brought to her attention the few stories that reflected her background. She wanted to write a story about her culture and provide a voice that she did not have when she was growing up.

“Where are the books about us and what’s next?” she wondered.

Writing a novel in verse was a challenge for Acevedo because she had never structured a story that way before. However, her unique writing style brought out Xiomara’s voice. The protagonist writes poetry in her journal to express thoughts that she can not voice, much like Acevedo when she was young.

Along with The Poet X, Acevedo wrote Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths, a collection of folkloric poems centered on the experiences of first-generation American women. Acevedo has an upcoming book, entitled With the Fire on High, that will be published in May.

Donate to Theogony

Your donation will support the student journalists of Alexandria City High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Theogony

Activate Search
Elizabeth Acevedo Visits