October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard Featured
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. Gay Awareness Week was beginning at the University of Wyoming, and the keynote speaker was Lesléa Newman, discussing her book Heather Has Two Mommies. Shaken, the author addressed the large audience that gathered, but she remained haunted by Matthew’s murder. October Mourning, a novel in verse, is her deeply felt response to the events of that tragic day. Using her poetic imagination, the author creates 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. More than a decade later, this stunning cycle of sixty-eight poems serves as an illumination for readers too young to remember, and as a powerful, enduring tribute to Matthew Shepard’s life.
A Small Volume that Speaks...Volumes
Though it is a quick read, this book is deep and profound. A series of poems written in memory of Matthew Shepard, the young college student who was brutally tortured and left to die in the cold and remote wilderness of Wyoming, it is both moving and upsetting.
I still remember hearing about this terrible act of hatred and even the hatred that continued to follow the murder as demonstrated by the Westboro Baptist Church--but more memorable is the love and honor so many offered to the family and friends of Matthew--both in the LBGT community (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender) and beyond it. Nothing can ever justify what happened to him. Nothing can ever erase such a tragedy. But Newman does him the honor of not only remembering him in every which way imaginable (even through the eyes of a deer and the fence he was tied onto) but doing so over a decade later. Whether LBGT or not, this book is important for how much love and care it shows for Matthew's memory but also as a history lesson on hate. We must remember this and other tragedies like it so that our children may not repeat such heinous acts. The world will never be free of hate, but we can teach our children to love.