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Author Leslea Newman to release "October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard"
From a news release
2012-08-27

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SOMERVILLE, MA - August 27, 2012 - Candlewick Press today announced that author Leslea Newman's October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard will be released nationwide on September 25, 2012. A novel in verse, October Mourning offers readers a masterful, poetic exploration of the impact of the October 1998 murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming.

On the night of October 6, 1998, a gay twenty-one-year-old college student named Matthew Shepard was lured from a Wyoming bar by two young men, savagely beaten, tied to a remote fence, and left to die. It happened right before Gay Awareness Week. Lesléa Newman was already scheduled to visit the University of Wyoming as the keynote speaker. Shaken, the author addressed the large audience that gathered, reeling from the shock of Matthew's brutal murder.

October Mourning, a novel in verse, is her deeply felt response to the events of that tragic day. With poetic imagination, the author has created fictitious monologues from various points of view, including the fence Matthew was tied to, the stars that watched over him, the deer that kept him company, and Matthew himself. Nearly fourteen years later, this stunning cycle of sixty-eight poems illuminates this tragedy for readers too young to remember, and serves as a powerful, enduring tribute to Matthew Shepard's life.

Said Newman: "That night in Laramie, I promised the people attending my lecture that I would do my best to make sure Matthew Shepard was not forgotten. Though I never met him, he became part of the fabric of my life; the poems that make up this book poured out of me as if they had been cooped up for years. My hope is that those who read October Mourning will be inspired to honor Matthew Shepard's legacy by working to fill the world with peace, compassion, and love."

Said Jason Marsden, Executive Director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation: "From those of us who went through the media circus and national controversy surrounding Matt's murder, to those of you who worried, who wondered, who imagined what it was like: this touching work is a unique, moving and somber gift to you. October Mourning is a vivid, poetic testimony to a time that must never be forgotten and a vital contribution to Matt's legacy and our promise to do whatever we can to replace hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance."

About Leslea Newman

Lesléa (pronounced "Lez-LEE-uh") Newman is the author of more than 60 books including A Letter to Harvey Milk, Still Life with Buddy, Hachiko Waits, Write from the Heart, The Boy Who Cried Fabulous, The Best Cat in the World, and Heather Has Two Mommies.

She has received many literary awards, including Poetry Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Fellowship Foundation, the Highlights for Children Fiction Writing Award, the James Baldwin Award for Cultural Achievement, and three Pushcart Prize Nominations. Nine of her books have been Lambda Literary Award finalists.

Ms. Newman wrote Heather Has Two Mommies, the first children's book to portray lesbian families in a positive way, and has followed up this pioneering work with several more children's books on lesbian and gay families: Felicia's Favorite Story; Too Far Away to Touch; Saturday Is Pattyday; Mommy, Mama, and Me; Daddy, Papa, and Me; and Donovan's Big Day. She is also the author of many books for adults that deal with lesbian identity, Jewish identity and the intersection and collision between the two. Her award-winning short story, "A Letter to Harvey Milk" has been made into a film and adapted for the stage. A past poet laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts, Ms. Newman is currently a faculty member of Spalding University's brief-residency MFA in Writing Program.


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