Candlewick Press today announced that author Lesléa 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 21-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 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 14 years later, this stunning cycle of 68 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.”
Lesléa 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 – the first children’s book to portray lesbian families in a positive way.