"The Poet X" by Elizabeth Acevedo, Part I

Xiomara hides her poetry from her religious family, but when she joins a slam poetry club, she must decide whether or not she's ready for her voice to be heard. Learn these words from the acclaimed novel-in-verse by slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Part I, Part II, Part III
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Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. blare
    make a loud noise
    Listen to honking cabs with bachata blaring
    from their open windows
    compete with basketballs echoing from the Little Park.
  2. conceited
    having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
    The other girls call me conceited.
  3. stoop
    small porch or set of steps at the front entrance of a house
    This time it's “Mira, muchacha, Marina from across the street
    told me you were on the stoop again talking to los vendedores.”
  4. sacrament
    a formal religious ceremony conferring a specific grace
    Mami has wanted me to take the sacrament
    of confirmation for three years now.
  5. confirmation
    sacrament admitting a person to participation in the church
    Mami has wanted me to take the sacrament
    of confirmation for three years now.
  6. blasphemous
    grossly irreverent toward what is held to be sacred
    (I know, I know...even writing that is blasphemous.)
  7. trinity
    three people considered as a unit
    It's not any one thing
    that makes me wonder
    about the capital G.O.D.

    About a holy trinity
    that don’t include the mother.
  8. heathen
    a person who does not acknowledge your god
    “Mira, muchacha,”
    she starts, “I will
    feed and clothe no heathens.”
  9. elicit
    call forth, as an emotion, feeling, or response
    She tells me if I don’t confirm here
    she will send me to D.R.,
    where the priests and nuns know
    how to elicit true piety.
  10. piety
    righteousness by virtue of being religiously devout
    She tells me if I don’t confirm here
    she will send me to D.R.,
    where the priests and nuns know
    how to elicit true piety.
  11. hail
    praise vociferously
    When You’re Born to Old Parents

    Who’d given up hope for children
    and then are suddenly gifted with twins,
    you will be hailed a miracle.
  12. barrio
    a Spanish-speaking quarter in a town or city
    The neighbors will make the sign of the cross
    when they see you,
    thankful you were not a tumor
    in your mother’s belly
    like the whole barrio feared.
  13. bodega
    small shop selling groceries, especially in a Hispanic area
    He will stop hanging out at the bodega
    where the old men go to flirt.
  14. shackle
    a restraint that confines or restricts freedom
    This will become a despised shackle.
  15. incense
    a substance that produces a fragrant odor when burned
    You will be forced to go with her
    until your knees learn the splinters of pews,
    the mustiness of incense,
    the way a priest’s robe tries to shush silent
    all the echoing doubts
    ringing in your heart.
  16. penance
    voluntary self-punishment in order to atone for something
    No one, not even your twin brother,
    will understand the burden
    you feel because of your birth;

    your mother has sight for nothing
    but you two and God;
    your father seems to be serving
    a penance, an oath of solitary silence.
  17. resent
    feel bitter or indignant about
    It is ungrateful to resent my own birth.
  18. ode
    a lyric poem with complex stanza forms
    Mami was born en La Capital,
    in a barrio of thirst buckets
    who wrote odes to her legs,
    but the only man Mami wanted
    was nailed to a cross.
  19. habit
    a distinctive attire worn by a member of a religious order
    Since she was a little girl
    Mami wanted to wear a habit,
    wanted prayer and the closest
    thing to an automatic heaven admission
    she could get.
  20. coax
    influence or urge by gentle urging, caressing, or flattering
    He talked to us in his soft: West Indian accent,
    coaxing us toward the light.
  21. volition
    the act of making a choice
    “Of your own volition you will accept him into your lives.
    You will be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
    And this is a serious matter.”
  22. borough
    one of the administrative divisions of a large city
    Kids come from all five boroughs, and most of us bus or train,
    although since it's my zone school, I can walk to it on a nice day.
  23. icebreaker
    an initial activity to relax a tense or formal atmosphere
    Today, I have her first-period English,
    and after an hour and fifteen minutes of icebreakers,
    where we learn one another’s names
    (Ms. Galiano pronounces mine right on the first try),
    she gives us our first assignment:
    “Write about the most impactful day of your life.”
  24. conduct
    transmit or serve as the medium for transmission
    (I got him some steel knuckles so he could defend himself, but he used them to conduct electricity for a science project instead. My brother’s a genius.)
  25. etch
    carve or cut a design or letters into
    The cover is made of leather, with a woman reaching to the sky etched on the outside, and a bunch of motivational quotes scattered like flower petals throughout the pages.
  26. motivational
    of or serving to provide incentive or stimulus to action
    The cover is made of leather, with a woman reaching to the sky etched on the outside, and a bunch of motivational quotes scattered like flower petals throughout the pages.
  27. diorama
    a picture representing a continuous scene
    He even volunteered at the Bible camp this summer
    and now that school’s started he’ll miss
    the Stations of the Cross dioramas his campers made
    from Popsicle sticks
  28. beckon
    appear inviting
    Twin asks me if I'm okay.
    And my arms don’t know
    which one they want to become:
    a beckoning hug or falling anvils.
  29. anvil
    a heavy block on which hot metals are shaped by hammering
    Twin asks me if I'm okay.
    And my arms don’t know
    which one they want to become:
    a beckoning hug or falling anvils.
  30. compliant
    disposed to act in accordance with someone's wishes
    She has a way of guilting me compliant.
  31. disciple
    one who believes and helps spread the doctrine of another
    When I look around the church
    and none of the depictions of angels
    or Jesus or Mary, not one of the disciples
    look like me: morenita and big and angry.
  32. repentance
    remorse for your past conduct
    As repentance for not participating in communion last time,
    Mami makes me go
    to evening Mass with her every evening this week,
    even the days that aren’t confirmation class.
  33. annotate
    add explanatory notes to or supply with critical comments
    We’re supposed to be annotating this verse.
  34. prophet
    someone who speaks by divine inspiration
    My brother is no psychic, no prophet,
    but it makes me smile,
    this secret hope we share,
    that we are both good enough
    for each other and maybe the world, too.
  35. clarification
    an interpretation that removes obstacles to understanding
    Clarification on Dating Rules

    The thing is,
    my old-school
    Dominican parents
    Do. Not. Play.

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