On Wednesday night, Elizabeth Acevedo’s debut novel The Poet X was named the winner of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. The Poet X, written entirely in prose, is the story of a 15-year-old Dominican-American named Xiomara, who finds her voice through poetry. In the book, Xiomara struggles with being heard as she deals with body issues, her mother’s strict religious practice, and her relationship with her twin brother.
Poetry becomes her solace.
“Thank you to my family, to my homies, to my hood. I want to give thanks to my ancestors who are the reason I’m here,” Acevedo said during her acceptance speech.
I’m beyond honored and still reeling. Thank you for all the tweets and texts and congratulations. Thank you for all the good juju sent my way last night. Estoy emocionada but reading every message and tucking them into my heart. This is for us. ? https://t.co/WUmWwSp7JJ
— Elizabeth Acevedo (@AcevedoWrites) November 15, 2018
This is a tremendous win for the AfroLatinas and Dominicanas everywhere who found themselves in the story of young Xiomara. Acevedo is herself a Dominican-American poet who’s been writing for over 14 years. The Poet X is also a New York Times Bestseller, and Acevedo’s second book. Her first was a poetry collection titled Beastgirl and Other Origin Myths. Her second novel, With the Fire on High, is set to be released in May of 2019.
Here are some reactions to last night’s win:
— Dr. Vanessa K.Valdés (@valdes23) November 15, 2018
THIS IS AN ELIZABETH ACEVEDO APPRECIATION TWEET!!! NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER ??? pic.twitter.com/XMqLrfgnEw
— wikipedia brown is hype for #Ironheart! Nov 28? (@eveewing) November 15, 2018
“I only know that learning to believe in the power
of my own words
has been the most freeing experience of my life.
It has brought me the most light.
And isn’t that what a poem is?
A lantern glowing in the dark.”
— Meg (@meg_allison) November 15, 2018
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER ELIZABETH ACEVEDO I AM CRYING ? pic.twitter.com/99p8xzgLpe
— Eloisa Amezcua (@Eloisa_Amezcua) November 15, 2018
I KNEW @AcevedoWrites WAS GONNA WIN AND I’M BEYOND EXCITED FOR ALL THE YOUNG BROWN AND BLACK HANDS THAT ARE GONNA GET PUT ON TO THE GLORY!!! SHE WON AND WE ALL WON TOO!
— Danez Smith (@Danez_Smif) November 15, 2018