Why Not YA? | Episode 1: Elizabeth Acevedo, The Poet X

[MUSIC] I’m Ebony LaDelle from Epic Reads.>>And I’m Karah Preiss from Belletrist.>>And we are so excited to be coming
together, to talk to authors that we love, who are in the YA space.>>That’s young adults.>>Exactly, I’m sorry.>>And we’re extremely excited to present
to you this new show that we have where we’re discussing all sorts of themes.>>So, this month, our theme is
what it means to be sex positive. And we have the amazing Elizabeth Acevedo
who is the author of The Poet X. And she’s gonna talk to us about her main
character Xiomara, who is really tired of being cat-called and she kind of
uses poetry to really fight back.>>And there’s so
many cool things in this book. And we really hope you
guys got to read it. And if you didn’t read it yet
>>You will after this. You will after this.
>>You will after you watch this entire video.>>I promise you.
[LAUGH]>>Hi everyone. We are here with Elizabeth Acevedo,
who is the author of The Poet X, a brilliant book.>>A brilliant book. [LAUGH]
>>Jinx. And we are going to talk to her, but first
I wanna read a quote from the book that I think really fits into this month’s theme. So you said when your body takes up more
room than your voice, you are always the target of well-aimed rumors which
is why I let my knuckles talk for me. I’ve forced my skin just as thick as I am. This month’s theme is what it
means to be sex-positive and, as a woman, how hard it is. Just like walking down the street, just
being yourself, being in your own skin. It’s so difficult. And I just had a conversation with someone
close to me who was saying that she wears sweats and big t-shirts and big pants because she just doesn’t
wanna draw attention to herself. And it’s someone near and
dear to me and it made me really sad. And so I just thought of this
quote because I love Xiomara. I love that she struggles a lot with
wanting to have ownership over her body, but also not having the choice
to decide how men view her. How they stare, how they act,
what’s too much, what’s not enough. So what made you decide
to write that story?>>I think I’ve thought a lot
about how to bring the idea of cat-calling of this culture, of rape culture right, because that’s
what it is if we were to name it. Into literature, and
I had worked with different poems. I’ve always been talking back against
this idea of, if your community, if your neighborhood, if your city should
be a place where you feel like you belong. What does it mean when a certain
sect automatically makes you feel like you are hyper-visible,
like you are a target right? Because oftentimes I remember being so
young, maybe 12, 13, the first time that dudes
starting hollering at me. And it wasn’t just one dude right? It would be a guy with
a bunch of folks around him. And the moment that you keep walking or
don’t respond how they want you to respond, it becomes this
aggressive attack on you, right? Like I was cute a second ago. And now you have a litany of things
that you want to call me and I think for me it was kind of like, all right. Well, maybe this was just
when I was growing up. And then I was in educator working with
young women and would hear these stories of what they would deal with every day and
it made me realize this doesn’t end. Like those men who did that
to me then taught their sons, then taught their little brothers,
that you know that it doesn’t stop. And so how much shame do we learn about,
did I call that attention? Did I make you say that? Like should I wear sweats? And then you get hollered at in sweats and
you’re like okay, it’s not what I’m wearing. [CROSSTALK] Yeah, but
that there’s duality there, right? That Xiomara also feels like,
there’s a little part of her that sees that attention and
thinks what if I did like that. What does it mean to like that
attention that we’re taught, right? I remember getting like
hit on the train and having this really negative explosive
experience with this guy who made a very, like vulgar comment about
my body on the train. And mentioning to my parents later,
and my parents kinda be like, but he just thought you were attractive.>>Yeah, right.>>Right, so should I crave that,
should I want that? I thought I looked a mess, but
maybe I am cute, maybe you’re right, stranger on the corner. And so I think it’s, it was wanting to bring all of that
complexity to the conversation.>>I think what’s so interesting, too, is
that it becomes, like, I’m gay now, right? But, like, when I was growing up, I still
thought that walking down the street, getting some attention, from somebody
that I didn’t even wanna sleep with, like the whole gender I
wasn’t interested in. That it was still validating, which is
how deeply engrained it is in women. Like with women’s’ bodies, regardless of
like, your sexuality, that if you don’t like like, I kinda like when people
are cat-calling me on the street. Or if like you know a group of guys says
something about my boobs or something. And I’m like,
I don’t even want to sleep with them. And it’s like, especially, and I was
thinking of this when you were talking, especially when you live in a city
where public space is shared.>>[CROSSTALK]
>>And on trains especially when you’re like,
on top of people. Not only is it prevalent, but, it’s like,
it’s your debt, like it’s daily life. And so, to almost like at,
as you were saying, like 10, 11, 12 to know that that’s just what you’re
gonna deal with regardless of who you want to end up marrying or sleeping with. It’s really crazy, yeah, and the book
really made me think a lot about that where I was like actually
I was like primed for it. I wasn’t like no I’m not interested
in them, so it doesn’t matter.>>You’re programmed.>>Yeah.
>>You’re like programmed young to believe that this is normal.>>Yeah.
>>Right.>>And the day you don’t get cat-called,
>>Exactly.>>Maybe I wasn’t
>>Yeah.>>Maybe this outfit isn’t cute.>>Right.
>>Maybe I’m ugly.>>Maybe I’m not cute. Like how many times I would
walk with my best friends out. And if she was, if she got
the attention and I didn’t, it was, I, there’s something wrong with me. And we, I think, internalize that
in that idea of competition, but at the same time would feel so under
a microscope in a way that I never wanted.>>Yeah.>>Right? Like craved it, but
then also was just like wait, but I actually don’t want you to see me. Cuz whatever is gonna come from this,
I know is not good, is not gonna make me feel good ultimately. And it’s what is that push and pull, and
what happens when you grow up with that?>>And also,
I think one of the interesting things for me was growing up being
taught how to respond. You know what I mean? For me it was like,
if someone says something to you, make sure you say something back,
because I had heard horror stories.>>Right.
>>Smile, say thank you.>>Exactly, exactly. And this whole concept
of why won’t you smile. You know what I mean?>>Right.>>All these comments that you get, it was a direct response to what
girls were learning growing up. You know what I mean? And when a guy felt like they didn’t
even get that, you know what I mean, that presented another set of problems,
which is so interesting. So let’s talk about like being
taught in relationships and the relationship between Xiomara and
her mother, is so complex. Yeah, her mother sometimes blames her for
the attention she gets. Tries to tell her to cover up or
be invincible and a lot of ways, and I saw a lot of moms doing this
growing up where it was just like for religious reasons or you know what I mean? Because a girl was more voluptuous
than others or whatever. They felt like you’re the reason
why this is happening. So, did you draw inspiration from girls
that you knew growing up as well?>>I definitely think there was this idea
that what happened outside was your fault. If you didn’t cover yourself or if you didn’t present in a certain way, you called that onto you, and
there was dissonance there, right? Because I’m, it doesn’t matter if I
wear sweats or a skirt, my hair is up or down, so I know it’s not actually me.>>Exactly.>>It’s this thing happening out there,
and I would see it in my neighborhood, I would see it with young women, and I would see it with our mothers who
I think didn’t know how to protect us.>>Exactly.>>And particularly where you’re coming
from another country where my mother didn’t grow up in the city, right? She grew up very rural. So everybody knew everybody. So this kinda thing didn’t happen in this
way, and so for her it’s you have this exposure to all of these folks I
don’t know and if you don’t present in a certain way, then what they say or
do might be on you, right? And I think it was her attempt
to protect me and not know how. I can’t control them, right? I can’t fix that but how do I assure
you’re defended and it’s this toxic notion but I empathize with
her wanting to protect, right? With so many mothers who are how do I keep
you safe when I can only talk to you. I don’t know that boy’s mother.>>Yeah right.>>And so it’s this strange moment of
I get it but also it’s not my fault. And having to learn to say that to other
young women, it is not your fault. Whatever they do,
they made a choice on how to treat you and it wasn’t based on what you were wearing
or how you walk down the street.>>Yeah and I feel like right now in
the country we’re just starting to get to the point where it’s no,
you have to train boys to be feminist. For us growing up, that wasn’t a thing. I felt like even now,
boys are still having to learn that.>>And it harms all of us.>>Exactly.>>Mm-hm.
>>If your gender non-conforming, if you’re non-binary, if you’re a man,
if you’re a woman, it harms all of us. There are so many young men
who I know are good young men. And even they lean into
what they’ve been taught. And they don’t understand
what did I do wrong? Because they’ve been taught like this,
if you’re not aggressive or you don’t go for it. You know what I’m saying? So it’s this kind of undoing so
many norms.>>I think it is really interesting,
though, thinking about mothers, and fathers with daughters versus mothers and
fathers with sons. Which is there’s this preconceived notion
that girls will be preyed upon and boys will just do something wrong.>>Right.
>>And I think that people have children and they just are programmed that way,
where it’s like it’s always called to my attention like when girls
go to open their door, they look back. When boys go open their door, they walk
inside the building, you know what I mean. And so
like mothers put girls on lockdown and they can put boys on lockdown but
only if they do something crazy to a girl. Or abusing drugs or
alcohol whatever it is. I just think parents worry more for
daughter’s and then so what does that say about our culture? If you just have to worry more.>>And the limitations that girls
get because of protection right. My brother gets to stay out
until 2 a.m because he’s a boy, you know what I mean, but
I have to be in by 11:00.>>Her mother really meant well, but also was somewhat stunted herself
like in terms of not being involved. Or just in like the only way she knew
how to control her feelings was to be so controlling which I would imagine is so
hard for parents, right?>>And I think when you’re older,
when you’re from a different place, when you’re generationally different and
you’re like, this child is a miracle. And there’s a way I wanna mold them and protect them and
how much of that is just letting them go. I mean, I’m not a parent but I think so much of what I saw was we
are afraid of this country. We are afraid of the values
this country has and so how do I ensure that just because
I am not in the place where I’m from, that my children don’t lose
the things I want them to have.>>Yeah.
>>And so often it’s about grabbing, I think for those of us who are first gen, it’s grabbing your parent by the hand and
what if that doesn’t serve us? What if you have to let
some of those things go and move in a different direction in order for
us to be able to grow. Like you were saying,
it’s like stunted growth. What about who you are now? You’re here. What values do you keep? What traditions do you keep? And what do you have to release? Because it’s not healthy. And some of those norms, I think, especially when you’re coming
from a different place. The Dominican Republic is one of the most
Catholic countries in the world. And so the church has a lot of say in
how people live their everyday lives. Every single thing, right? And so it’s like okay, but what if.>>[LAUGH]
>>What if we contemplated different notions of walking through the world?>>Yeah, exactly, exactly.>>And so I wanted see some other
questions with that I love what you were saying. I think that’s why her twin was a boy.>>Yeah.
And again in the back of my mind, there was
this little bit of, they are twins, they are raised in the same household,
they are the same age in every facet. But look at how he’s given
a little more leeway with girls, who he doesn’t wanna sleep with [LAUGH].>>Right exactly.>>And like just that push and pull to
really demonstrate her point, right? Her frustration.>>Yeah.>>So basically we wanted you
to talk a little bit about the impression that parents can have
on their kids and gender norms. Whether Ciomara or with her body or
Ciomara’s brother coming out, or Iman loving the Winter Olympics. I think you play with gender stereotypes really well without it being,
I’m talking about gender stereotypes. I think it’s something that you get
at that’s really interesting is sometimes we can’t, why is it that a lot of times we can’t
be exactly the thing that we wanna be. So, I don’t know if you could talk
a little bit more about that. Or how you sort of decided for
example that Twin was gay or that Iman would be into this thing that
not only was counter cultural for him, being from Trinidad, but that was kind
of soft as well, like ice skating.>>Right, yeah,
he was told that that’s soft.>>Yeah.>>And I think I grew up listening to
a lot of men say that to one another. That’s soft.>>Yeah.
>>And it’s an insult.>>Exactly yeah.>>You can’t be soft and it’s sad, right? The softness that we
don’t allow one another. Even Ciomara has to be tough in some ways,
right? And I was really thinking about, similar to what we were just saying like
what are the things that we learned? What is passed on to us that perhaps, especially young people know in their
guts no, I don’t want to take that in. I don’t want to believe that but don’t have a notion of anything different,
right?>>Exactly, yeah.>>Like Twin knows that he should be
able to love who he wants to love. He is a super educated, really smart,
really empathetic, sensitive guy but he also knows my family will think this
is wrong and so I have to hide it.>>And I also love that you talk about
that because he didn’t come out to his sister immediately. And the twin dynamic,
I have four sets of twins in my family.>>What?
>>Yeah, my grandmother had four sets of twins. So that dynamic is just It’s critical,
it’s crucial. It’s something that you can’t replicate
with siblings in a way because they have that closeness and that bond. So that was very interesting in the fact
that culturally he was so afraid of coming out that he couldn’t even tell the person
that he shared the same womb with. You know what I mean?>>And because also I think Ciomara
had taken in some of those things, that we see it in that moment. Where what he needs her to say and
do, she doesn’t know how.>>Exactly.
>>And she thinks it’s because she wants to protect him.>>Yeah.
>>But it’s because she has to learn like, maybe I’ve taken on some of the beliefs,
right? And I’m challenging this in my own mother.>>Yeah.
>>But what about. What I have accepted, right? And I was really interested in looking at
the duality of these characters, right? That none of us are the perfect ally,
the perfect woman, the perfect parent, that we are so complicated. And what does it mean to have to let
go and unlearn those things in order to be the best sibling, or
daughter, you know what I’m saying?>>Or even with Aman, I was just
talking to somebody about this today, when Xiomara, somebody grabbed her butt or
something and he kind of just sat there, you know
what I mean, and didn’t do anything. And he wasn’t an ally in that moment. It doesn’t mean that he didn’t care
about her, but he, you know what I mean, in some ways he was taught to just like-
>>I got a lot of pushback for that scene.>>That he didn’t stand up for her?>>Well, cuz I was kinda like why is
she so she mean to him afterwards? I’m like do you know what happened?>>[LAUGH]
>>Why does she, that could of been a conversation. One, what made you think
this girl learned how to->>[LAUGH]>>Conflict resolutions, but also like in this moment what she needed
was someone to say on her behalf, you cannot touch someone’s body
just because you think you can. And this person who is
her partner at the time.>>Yeah, exactly.>>Right? And->>And we talk about that,
like how being silent is being complicit. You know what I mean?
>>Yeah, right.>>That was a perfect example of that.>>But I do think it’s important to at
least, and I always think about this now, having sympathy for your younger self
when you’re like why didn’t I see?>>Yeah.
>>Why was I being such a little bitch about, you know what I mean?>>[LAUGH]
>>And I think that as people like we go, I was actually talking to
someone about this this morning. We go through these phases of being
able to be more and more self hopefully.>>Right.>>But, we can’t blame, I mean I don’t think we can flat out
blame teenagers for doing dumb shit.>>Yeah, yeah.>>And I thought your characters
really spoke to that where it’s like just because Twin is gay, it doesn’t
mean he’s gonna be compassionate and the most compassionate person,
and the most this. I think that’s also a very black and
white way of thinking.>>Yeah.
>>Like, just cuz this person is woke in one way,
they’re gonna be woke in another way, or I still think it’s so
hard to be a champ, like it so hard->>For sure, I love that you said your younger
self cuz I’m like man on Sunday.>>[LAUGH]
>>A moment where I was like I should’ve said something and then I was gobsmacked
in the moment, didn’t know what to say. And it wasn’t even allyship,
it was literally defending myself.>>Exactly, that’s so true.
>>How often is it? Every single day, every single day
we have to make these decisions of what are the battles
I’m choosing to fight, and how are the ways that I’m
gonna stand up for myself and for other people and show up-
>>Yeah.>>And that you don’t win every day.>>Exactly.>>And if you’re someone who’s a fighter
all the time, you can also miss things.>>Yeah.
>>Right.>>You know what I mean?>>Yeah.>>And that I think is.>>Or trying to figure out what is the
stance that you’re gonna take that’s gonna make the most impact? You know what I mean? Like choosing to pull back on a day when
you’re just like I really don’t want, I really wanna say something, but you know that you can have
a greater impact if you wait.>>If you wait.>>Yeah.
>>And I think even when we tell young people
to speak up or take up space, adults can be very particular
about how they want that to look.>>Yes.>>Right? I’m lucky enough to have come up through
a lot of different kinds of non-profit organizations that had to
do with youth empowerment, I’ve worked in youth empowerment work, and I’ve seen the way that you’ll wanna
curtail a young poet, or a young artist. And yeah, we want you at this event,
or this fundraiser, but do this safe thing, say this safe thing. And it’s like, well, no,
that’s literally not the point, right?>>Exactly.>>If they have this stage, if they’re allowed to speak,
then whatever they say, they’ve said.>>Yeah.
>>And if there are consequences to that, then fine, right? That when I write this book and
young people send me letters or tell me what poems they’ve written or
whatever the case may be, it’s not so a teacher could then say, write like this.>>Exactly.
>>Or write in this way, or believe this about your body. It’s about whatever you want to do and say with your heart or
about you has to be okay. I’m not just handing you the microphone so
you can say what I wanna hear.>>Right.>>Yeah.>>You know what I’m saying? Get out of the way. I just think so often adults I’m like,
get out, we mess things up. Get out the way and
just let them take the stage.>>Liz is,
she don’t wanna talk about this. But she’s an award winning slam poet,
okay? So she’s got some clout. Talk about what slam poetry is to you and
what it’s done for you and how it kind of helped you
become a published writer.>>Sure, I don’t necessarily
use the term slam poet.>>Okay.>>No, a lot of folks-
>>[LAUGH]>>A lot of folks say this and call me this. I think that poetry slam is a game.>>Yeah.
>>Right, you show up to a poetry slam and you say a poem.>>Yeah, yeah.>>Often times that you’ve memorized.>>Yeah.
>>Right? But it’s the arena.
>>Yeah.>>And I’ve participated in poetry slams since I was 14.
And it was one of the first times that I
really had to own my own words, and my body, and in front of strangers.
All right, here’s what I, and then get a score, right?
So this idea that what you have to say will or won’t have a certain resonance,
and what does that mean? And I performed for years,
both competitively and not, and there was something about what I learned growing
up in that space, one about just how talented other people were, like there’s
teenagers who I’m like you are good. I am nowhere near that, right? That we learned from one another,
there was no teacher, there was just what did they do and
why was I crying? And how do I, right? That’s an amazing thing how
you can learn from each other. And just the community, the space,
the ritual of writing two, three poems a week with this
idea of that embodying it. Something about that was beautiful to
me and I’ve never seen it in a book. And so I knew the first kernel for The Poet X was this young
woman who was a fighter. I knew her name. I knew it was gonna be Xiomara,
one who is ready for war. Who discovers this ability, who discovers
that she has so much to say and it has to be said in this particular way,
right, in her body memorized. And not even necessarily to uplift the
subculture, right, I think that came after the fact, but just to say what is it
mean to be a 15-year-old young woman and get on a stage in front of hundreds of
strangers and dare people to look away. Especially when you’ve been looked
at your whole life, all of a sudden, to say, you’re gonna look at me for what I want you to look at me,
and you’re gonna hear me. And to me that was what slam did.>>Yeah.>>I could get on the stage and I have three minutes to say whatever
I want whether or not you like it.>>Yeah.
>>And when else as a young person
was I given that stage?>>Yeah.>>And also I thought what you really portrayed
well is that when you do the thing? You talk about it as a high, or
the character talks about it as a high. And, again, I think we kinda, in adolescence or in our early 20s,
sometimes we lose the things. I mean if it’s your profession then it’s
different, but we can sometimes lose that genuine this is why I do it,
cuz I have to keep doing it.>>Yeah.
>>And I think like you can tell the first time she’s on stage just like,
she’s like I can’t do anything else.>>Exactly, yeah
>>[LAUGH] It becomes compulsive I think.>>Yeah, yeah.>>That feeling of connection. They saw me and they heard me and
there is an adrenaline rush. To this day, I mean I’ve been performing
over 15 years, I do 50 events a semester, so I’m doing about 100 events a year
on stage performing poems and there’s still that moment
afterwards of just [SOUND].>>Yeah, yeah. And I did it, right?>>Yeah.>>And they didn’t leave.>>[LAUGH]
>>Most of them stayed.>>They clapped [LAUGH].>>They clapped, and I said this
thing that people nodded to, and that maybe they had never thought of
the language for, and that’s amazing. I am not alone, but
also they are not alone.>>Exactly, exactly.>>I feel seen, but also they know I
saw them, and that connection to me is amazing, and I try to get that first
moment of she’s like, I will never, ever, ever do this again, and then she finishes,
and she’s like, how can I not?>>Yeah, exactly, yeah.>>A thing you fear, but
also leap into time and again.>>Yeah, you and
Xiomara have similarities.>>[LAUGH]
>>I don’t want to say too much, cuz I don’t wanna get in
trouble by your mom [LAUGH].>>Right, right.>>[LAUGH]
>>This is not autobiographical [LAUGH].>>Let’s be clear. [LAUGH] I don’t want your
mom come with me, but you, both the view draw
inspiration from hip-hop.>>Yeah.>>So what were some of your
favorite artist growing up, and what are some of your
favorite artists now?>>I was a big Nas, Jay-Z, I love Eve. She was one of the first
women I heard rap. When she did Love is Blind, that’s
the first song I ever, I googled it, I memorized the lyrics,
this is back when like, first AOL, [LAUGH] 30 minutes to download a thing. But I just thought here’s a strong
woman who was a stripper. I mean, she talks about this,
and owned her body, and owned her story, and
I just thought she was fantastic. I was a big 2Pac fan. I think for me was always storytellers. I like punchline rappers now, I think. I lean more into cleverness and
wittiness, but I think back then I sacrificed
that cleverness for just a story. There was something that felt like
they were talking to me and about me. These days everyone knows this,
if you follow me in any capacity, I’m a big fan of Cardi B. I think she’s also someone who to me
owns her story, whether right or wrong.>>[CROSSTALK]
>>She’s very sex positive. I really like No Name. I just listened to her last album and
I thought she was really strong, really fantastic. And also I’m old-school in a lot of ways. I kind of just still
listen to the same stuff.>>[LAUGH]
>>You wrote in the book you were like, and the old-school guys like Nas,
and I was like, am I old?>>[CROSSTALK]
>>We are! We are!>>I’m sure you had to do that for
the book, because you’re talking about a contemporary-
>>Because eighth graders they’re like, who’s Nas?>>Exactly. I was like old-school like Jay-Z? I’m like, Jay-Z-
>>And Ja Rule, [LAUGH] old-school love Ja Rule.>>And Ja Rule, I was like what!>>But eighth graders are still like,
Jay Z? Jay Z’s not a contemporary. No, I still love hip-hop.>>I’m reading about teenagers right now, cuz I was like,
Kendrick is what’s coming out right now.>>I love Kendrick,
J Cole, Chance the Rapper, I think there’s a lot of really
good stuff coming out here.>>Now we’re gonna do
rapid fire questions, which we have something
called the Belletrist Brief. So this is that essentially, but-
>>Okay.>>Out loud. So what’s your favorite
Indie bookstore ever?>>Ever? I’m a big fan of East City Books in DC.>>I know it.>>Ever? And what about [LAUGH]. Sorry, New York and DC,
I gotta give them both shoutouts, I don’t wanna get in trouble. [LAUGH]
>>I guess we kind of just went over this, but what are some songs that you were
listening to when you wrote this book?>>The playlist for this book is
a lot of Beyonce, a lot of Rihanna, a lot of Nicki Minaj, a lot of J Cole.>>I love it so much.>>What podcasts do you listen to? Do you listen to podcasts?>>I do. I really like Verses. It’s from the poetry foundation. It’s the poet Dennis Smith and
the poet Frannie Choi, and they bring the most amazing
contemporary poet of this type. But also it’s just them like giggling for
half, it’s just them having
fun with their homies.>>Yeah.>>And to come from the Poetry Foundation, which was like the most prestigious
organizations in the country, and to have these two queer people of color talk shit
on a podcast for an hour, is amazing. It brings me so much joy to feel like
I’m getting a master class in craft and also kicking it with my hommies who
are in my ear while I grocery shop.>>[LAUGH]
>>It’s the best.>>Do you have three products that
you use, that you love to use? We always ask writers what
are their favorite things?>>Okay.>>Like writing things?>>No, whatever, face.>>Face, life things, that you must have.>>Okay.>>[LAUGH]
>>Too much pressure?>>Yeah [LAUGH].>>It can be your fragrance, or
your foundation, your lipstick.>>Tell us what you do with your hair.>>I was gonna say I was just
going to go to the hair [LAUGH]. I love Diva Curls One Conditioner. It does great curl things. Shea moisture has a coconut oil
line that just smells really good.>>[LAUGH]
>>So I have like the body gel and also the hair like it’s just line.>>She loves smells, let’s be clear.>>[LAUGH]
>>She will sniff you.>>[LAUGH] I do. I was in the hall,
I’m like, you smell nice. You smell like soap. That smell’s so basic. It’s not even like you smell like rose,
you smell like soap, [LAUGH] you shower.>>[LAUGH] Yeah.>>And I love,
I love just basic ass Olay face cream. It just smells good, it does the job,
I don’t break out, just like real simple.>>Good price?>>CVS, yeah, just keep it simple.>>Do you use pencil or pen?>>Pen, no pencil.>>Do you have a pen that you love? I’m always so curious about this.>>I have to do ball point,
I can’t do like super inky. I have really not great handwriting.>>[LAUGH]
>>My penmanship isn’t great. If I take my time, it’s really funky. It kind of looks like I may have done
graffiti at some point in my life, but if I rush, it’s horrible, it’s so pencil, it’s just like [NOISE]
[LAUGH] just like [NOISE]. So I need a pen that doesn’t smear.>>So Liz, I’m gonna have to put you
on the spot, because you love hip-hop->>I do.>>You are a poetry champion. So we just want you to just
like give us a little taste.>>Okay.>>Something.>>Okay,
I’m gonna do like old school then.>>Okay, that’s fine.>>These are like my baby bars. I wanted to be-
>>[LAUGH] Baby bars.>>No, because seriously-
>>Why are these your baby bars?>>Before I called myself a poet
I called myself a rapper.>>Okay.
>>And so these are like my early
14 year old lyrics.>>Do you have a name? [LAUGH]
>>Okay, I was super geeky, so don’t, I was nerd dumb, whatever, right? So I used to love role playing games.>>RPG?>>Yeah, called Final Fantasy. There was a character named Yuna,
but her full name was Yunalesca, and she was the summoner of souls. I’m like, that’s what I’m gonna do through
hip-hop, I’m going to summon up souls.>>[LAUGH]
>>So I called my self Lady Lesca.>>[LAUGH]
>>But like don’t [LAUGH].>>No, that’s amazing.>>All right Lady Leca’s about
to give us some [LAUGH].>>No, no, this is just young Liz.>>Young Liz.>>I don’t play Final Fantasy anymore so
I can’t claim Lesca. My rhymes are like nicotine, bad for
your health, but still addictive. I’m sick with a no cure prescripted. Rhymes are original, never prescriptive,
but if I got tomorrow, and God forbid it, you best believe no one could
do it the way that Liz did. I’m not saying I’m nice kid,
real MCs never say it. You are what you are. I was born a rap saiyan,
you know what I mean by rap saiyan? Like Dragonball Z, like a super saiyan? Rap God, bow down, before I break
your knees when y’all hear her speak, better hail the queen. A raptress like none thus seen, and
I’m not Diana Ross, but I reign supreme. And I’m not Diana Ross,
but I reign supreme. And I’m not Diana Ross, but I’ve been having sorrowful dreams
of a world that broke my heart and did some cowardly things, the irony
song that we all undoubtedly sing. I tell myself, little sister smile, you’re
a powerful being like wrapped in skin, got birthmark, you’re perfect. Don’t hurt if it didn’t work and
had no place in your purpose. Don’t curse the name of love,
find it in yourself and disperse it. Write a song, learn it well, and make sure when you rehearse
it you dedicate it to you. It’s cliche and faded, but true, cuz when
you make a joyous noise you’re emancipated from blues, you’re elevated to do,
to be, to live. Just because we love nakedly
doesn’t mean we were stripped. Just because they tried replacing
doesn’t mean that they did. And although they say we come from man,
we hold all the stars in our ribs, so stop sleepwalking. Create dreams while you’re awake, and remember the gods don’t
ever make mistakes. And remember, the gods inside
of us don’t ever make mistakes.>>Yay, amazing.>>[APPLAUSE]
>>Thank you.>>[LAUGH] You snap to that?>>You snap to it.>>[CROSSTALK].>>Or it doesn’t even have
to be a snap at the end, it’s like there’s a line you just like,
yes.>>Why don’t you put out rap?>>[LAUGH]
>>I’m waiting for J Cole to call, and he’s like, yo get on the verse. [LAUGH]
>>We’ll make that happen.>>[CROSSTALK]
>>I’m writing books.>>We have a signed copy of Poet X
that we’ll be giving away, so like, comment below,
tell jus what you thought of the book, tell us what you think of Liz,
tell us everything, cuz we’re with you.>>Yeah.
[LAUGH]>>Thank you.>>Thanks.>>[CROSSTALK]>>We love you.>>Thank you so much.>>You’re amazing as always.>>Bye guys.>>Bye. [MUSIC]

6 thoughts on “Why Not YA? | Episode 1: Elizabeth Acevedo, The Poet X

  1. I love Elizabeth Acevedo! She is so talented! The Poet X is magical and I really want that signed copy!

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