Part III

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.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. rectory
    an official residence provided by a church for a minister
    Instead of the confessional, he tells me
    to meet him in the rectory,
    the well-lit meeting space behind the church.
  2. remorseful
    feeling or expressing pain or sorrow for sins or offenses
    But forgiveness is only granted
    if the person is actually remorseful.
  3. gospel
    the written body of teachings accepted by a religious group
    His Spanish has a funky accent
    and when he gives the gospel for the Latino Mass
    half of the words be sounding made up.
  4. convent
    a religious residence especially for nuns
    “You cannot turn your back on God.
    I was on my journey to the convent,
    prepared to be his bride,
    when I married your father.
  5. endorse
    give support or one's approval to
    Halfway through an episode a commercial
    endorsed by one of last year's Winter Olympians comes on.
  6. facade
    a showy misrepresentation to conceal something unpleasant
    Even Twin has stopped speaking to me
    as if he’s afraid a single word
    will cause my facade to crack.
  7. fervent
    characterized by intense emotion
    Your hands on mine were cold
    Your lips near my ear were warm
    Your “I’m sorry” fervent
    But you have no need to apologize
  8. baffled
    perplexed by many conflicting situations or statements
    Twin stares at me, baffled,
    and then something clears on his face.
  9. cathartic
    emotionally purging
    “His name is Cody.
    And the poem was actually for you.
    I thought it would be cathartic
    to write something beautiful for yourself.”
  10. parasitic
    living off another
    Looking back, maybe we had a parasitic relationship?
    One of us taking and the other only trying to stay afloat.
  11. abyss
    a bottomless gulf or pit
    Chris Hodges is loud, a mile-a-minute talker,
    a comment for every poem, everything is “Deep” and “Wow,”
    his own poem using words like abyss and effervescent
    (I think he’s studying for the SAT).
  12. effervescent
    marked by high spirits or excitement
    Chris Hodges is loud, a mile-a-minute talker,
    a comment for every poem, everything is “Deep” and “Wow,”
    his own poem using words like abyss and effervescent
    (I think he’s studying for the SAT).
  13. cliche
    a trite or obvious remark
    And even though it's cliché, it's also perfect.
  14. croon
    sing softly
    By the time poetry club comes around,
    I’m walking on air before Stephan pulls me into the classroom,
    Chris takes off his fitted and croons “Happy Birthday”—
    the Stevie Wonder version.
  15. heave
    throw with great effort
    And as she recites Scripture
    words tumble out of my mouth too,
    all of the poems and stanzas I’ve memorized spill out,
    getting louder and louder, all out of order,
    until I’m yelling at the top of my lungs,
    heaving the words like weapons from my chest;
    they’re the only thing I can fight back with.
  16. omen
    a sign of a thing about to happen
    “My name is hard to say,
    and my hands are hard, too.
    I raise them here
    to build the church of myself.
    This X was always an omen.”
  17. cacophony
    loud confusing disagreeable sounds
    We're wild women, flinging verses at each other
    like grenades in a battlefield, a cacophony of violent poems—

    and then we're both gasping, wordless.
  18. smolder
    burn slowly and without a flame
    My notebook is smoldering,
    my heart feels like it’s been burned crisp,
    and all I can think about are mixed metaphors.
  19. urn
    a large vase that usually has a pedestal or feet
    If I were a pile of ashes
    who could I count on
    to gather me in a pretty urn?
  20. faze
    disturb the composure of
    But I feel more than jumbled
    when I walk on, so a halting train
    doesn’t faze me at all.
  21. plantain
    starchy banana-like fruit
    I help Aman fry eggs and sweet plantains.
  22. meld
    mix or become mixed together
    It’s a sweet memory made sweeter when
    at the third session with Father Sean,
    she gives me my name bracelet back,
    the gold melded where it’d been broken, but still whole.
  23. disclaimer
    denial of any connection with or knowledge of
    Do not give a disclaimer or introduction to your poem
  24. ovation
    enthusiastic recognition
    I don’t see the standing ovation...
  25. devout
    deeply religious
    I don’t know if I’ll ever be as religious as
    my mother, as devout as my brother and best friend.
Created on May 2, 2018 (updated May 3, 2018)

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