Elizabeth Acevedo's novel in verse The Poet X takes place in Harlem, a neighborhood in the northern part of New York City. The Harlem in which Xiomara and her family live is vastly different from the Harlem of the early 1900s, the time at which Harlem became a significant black community in America. Xiomara's family is Dominican, and many of her neighbors and friends are also of Afro-Caribbean descent, and they mingle with Harlem residents of all colors and backgrounds.
Many of the events in The Poet X take place in Xiomara's apartment, where she lives with her twin brother and their parents, as well as at her school, Chisholm High School. Xiomara spends a lot of time in her room at home, writing poetry and escaping the emotional turmoil that sometimes characterizes her life outside of her room. At school, important events happen in her English classroom, her Biology lab, and in the hallways, as well as during poetry club meetings. Sometimes, Xiomara goes to the local Catholic church where she attends confirmation class, but the church has deeper meaning for her mother than for Xiomara. Additionally, she goes to a party, an open mic night, and to the movies. All of these events take place in different parts of New York City, lending the settings a vibrant urban energy.