Behind the Cover: The Poet X with Designers Gabriel Moreno and Erin Fitzsimmons


Behind the Cover: The Poet X with Designers Gabriel Moreno and Erin Fitzsimmons

Behind the Cover Design: The Poet X
Are you ready to take a peek behind the curtain and see what goes into the making of a book cover? Presenting The Poet X!
This incredible novel-in-verse from award-winning slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo introduces Xiomara, a teenage girl who feels unheard and unable to hide from unwanted attention from strangers in her Harlem neighborhood. Frustrated at the catcalling, she resorts to her fists and clapbacks as a defense mechanism until she’s invited to her school’s slam poetry club and for the first time finds that she no longer has to apologize for refusing to be silent.
The Poet X cover is amazing for oh so many reasons, but one of the moving aspects of this process is that not only is the author and the character in the story persons of color, but so is the cover designer! When looking for a cover designer, HarperTeen’s in-house designer, Erin Fitzsimmons, knew Gabriel Moreno was a no-brainer. We had to get the inside info so we asked them to share how they came up with this cover concept!

Behind the Cover Design: The Poet X

ERIN – Our inspiration for this cover was Xiomara herself – strong, beautiful, defiant, and hopeful. Liz’s words are so powerful we knew we wanted to feature those on the cover as well. I knew from the moment I saw Gabriel’s work that he could illustrate Xiomara in a way that would perfectly showcase her beauty but also her dynamic energy and her writing.
ERIN – Liz provided a selection of poems from the book that Gabriel could pull inspiration and words from, and he did an incredible job with the initial sketches!
We got inside scoop from Gabriel Moreno about how he was able to create a cover that speaks volumes.

– My main inspiration for the cover was what is going on in the life of the young girl. She is trying to find her voice in the world and starting to express herself through words and poetry.

– Whilst she has a fierceness and strength to her personality, she is also still young and has a vulnerability to her. I tried to capture all of these aspects into the gaze of her eyes. The words around her, I feel are an insight into what’s going on in her mind and soul and perhaps how she is perceived by the others around her.

– From that initial sketch round, we worked together to perfect the typography, the colors, and the design of the jacket. Xiomara is bursting with life and love and energy, and I wanted the jacket to reflect that as much as possible.

And the results speak for itself! The final cover is truly a work of art.
A huge thank you to Erin and Gabriel for stopping by and giving us the inside scoop on the making of the cover! We absolutely love seeing these gorgeous in-progress images. Check out more of Gabriel’s work at his website and follow him on Facebook and Instagram.


About The Poet X

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.
But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about.
With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems. Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

What have been some of your favorite covers in YA lit? Are there any in particular that you’d like the inside scoop on? Tell us in the comments below!

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