Although it takes place over only a few months, The Poet X can be seen as both a Bildungsroman and, more specifically, a Künstlerroman. This means that it is a book which follows Xiomara's progress in growing up, as well as her artistic development as a poet. Poetry is important to Xiomara because it is an outlet for feelings and ideas she cannot express in any other way. Her conservative mother expresses her own inner self through her Catholic faith and wants Xiomara to do so too. However, Xiomara has an increasingly conflicted relationship with religion and is no longer able to be the devout "girl who would sit in the pews/wearing pretty florals and a soft smile" that her mother would like her to be.
Xiomara, like many teenagers, is not fully at home with her parents, in church, or at school. She is surrounded by a hostile environment of drug abuse and teenage pregnancy. At school, Xiomara is reticent, but stands out because her curvaceous figure makes her attractive to her male peers. However, this is not the way in which she wants to stand out. The opportunity to compete in a poetry slam allows Xiomara to gain recognition for her intellect, but at the cost of further alienating her mother. It is, therefore, an exciting opportunity, but also a frightening one.