Elizabeth Acevedo

Acclaimed Spoken Word Poet
NY Times Bestselling Novelist
National Book Award Finalist
National Poetry Slam Champion

Readings & Lecture Topics

  • The Poet X
  • An Evening with Elizabeth Acevedo


“In nearly every poem, there is at least one universal truth about adolescence, family, gender, race, religion, or sexuality that will have readers either nodding in grateful acknowledgment or blinking away tears.” – Horn Book

“Poignant and real, beautiful and intense.” – Kirkus Review, starred review

Poet, novelist, and National Poetry Slam Champion, Elizabeth Acevedo was born and raised in New York City, the only daughter of Dominican immigrants. Her poetry is infused with Dominican bolero and her beloved city’s tough grit. She is the author of the New York Times best selling and award-winning novel, The Poet X (HarperCollins, 2018), a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award for Young Adult Fiction; and the poetry chapbook Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths (YesYes Books, 2016), a collection of folkloric poems centered on the historical, mythological, gendered and geographic experiences of a first generation American woman. From the border in the Dominican Republic, to the bustling streets of New York City, Acevedo considers how some bodies must walk through the world as beastly beings. How these forgotten myths are both blessing and birthright.

Acevedo is the winner the Horn Book Prize for Fiction and Poetry for The Poet X. The Horn Book Magazine review of the novel calls Acevedo’s debut verse novel “an arresting portrait of a young poet coming into her own.” They write: “Fifteen-year-old Xiomara, whose name means “one who is ready for war,” has been fighting her whole life.… In nearly every poem, there is at least one universal truth about adolescence, family, gender, race, religion, or sexuality that will have readers either nodding in grateful acknowledgment or blinking away tears. ‘It almost feels like / the more I bruise the page / the quicker something inside me heals.’” In another review, Justina Ireland observes: “This book crackles with energy and snaps with authenticity and voice. Every poem in this stunningly addictive and deliciously rhythmic verse novel begs to be read aloud. Xiomara is a protagonist who readers will cheer for at every turn. As X might say, Acevedo’s got bars. Don’t pass this one by.”

Acevedo’s poems have been published or are forthcoming in Poetry, Puerto Del Sol, Callaloo, Poet Lore, The Notre Dame Review, and others. Acevedo is a Cave Canem Fellow, Cantomundo Fellow, and participant of the Callaloo Writer’s Workshop. She’s given TedTalks and has been a featured reader nationally and internationally, including appearance at renowned venues such as The Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden, the Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts, South Africa’s State Theatre, The Bozar in Brussels, the National Library of Kosovo and many others.

Acevedo holds a BA in Performing Arts from The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. She resides in Washington, DC with her husband.


Elizabeth Acevedo is the New York Times best selling author of the award-winning novel, THE POET X and the chapbook Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths (YesYes Books, 2016). She holds a BA in Performing Arts from The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. Acevedo is a National Poetry Slam Champion, finalist for the National Book Award, and she is the winner of the Boston-Globe Hornbook Award Prize for Best Children’s Fiction of 2018. She resides in Washington, DC with her husband.


THE POET X

“Crackles with energy and snaps with authenticity and voice.” —Justina Ireland

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. But she still 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.

BEASTGIRL & OTHER ORIGIN MYTHS
Poetry. Latino/Latina Studies. Women’s Studies. Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths by Elizabeth Acevedo is the first title in YesYes Books’ Blue Note Edition Chapbook Series. Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths is a collection of folkloric poems centered on the historical, mythological, gendered, and geographic experiences of a first generation American woman. From the border in the Dominican Republic, to the bustling streets of New York City, Acevedo considers how some bodies must walk through the world as beastly beings. How these forgotten myths be both blessing and birthright.

IN TRANSLATION

My mouth cannot write you a white flag.
It will never be a Bible verse.
My mouth cannot be shaped into the apology
you say both you and God deserve.

And you want to make it seem
it’s my mouth’s entire fault.
Because it was hungry,
and silent, but what about your mouth:

how your lips are staples
that pierce me quick and hard.

And the words I never say
are better left on my tongue
since they would only have slammed
against the closed door of your back.

Your silence furnishes a dark house.
But even at the risk of burning
the moth always seeks the light.

—excerpted from the novel in verse, THE POET X

IRON

And although I am a poet, I am not the bullet;
I will not heat-search the soft points.

I am not the coroner who will graze her hand
over naked knees. Who will swish her fingers

in the mouth. Who will flip the body over, her eye a hook
fishing for government-issued lead.

I am not the sidewalk, which is unsurprised
as another cheek scrapes harsh against it.

Although I too enjoy soft palms on me;
enjoy when he rests on my body with a hard breath;
I have clasped
this man inside me and released him again and again,
listening to him die thousands of little deaths.

What is a good metaphor for a woman who loves in a time like this?

I am no scalpel or high thread count sheet. Not a gavel, or hand-painted teacup.
I am neither nor romanced by the streetlamp nor candlelight;
my hands are not an iron, but look, they’re hot, look
how I place them in love on his skin
and am still able to unwrinkle his spine.