This program uses poetry, photographs, and creative visualization to explore the impact of Matthew Shepard’s murder on the world. In 1998, Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, robbed, beaten, and murdered in Laramie, Wyoming.
Lesléa Newman was the keynote speaker for Gay Awareness Week at the University of Wyoming that year, and arrived on campus the day that Matthew Shepard died from this horrendous hate crime. She spoke to a devastated campus and community, and vowed to work to erase hate from that day forward. This powerful presentation challenges audience members to look deep inside themselves and find a way to make a difference to create a safe world for everyone.
Lesléa Newman is the author of 60 books, including A Letter to Harvey Milk, Nobody’s Mother, 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 Massachusetts Artists Fellowship Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, 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; and Daddy, Papa, and Me.
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. Other topics Ms. Newman explores include AIDS, eating disorders, butch/femme relationships, and sexual abuse. Her award-winning short story, A Letter To Harvey Milk, has been made into a film and adapted for the stage.
In addition to being an author, Ms. Newman is a popular guest lecturer and has spoken on college campuses across the country, including Harvard University, Yale University, the University of Oregon, Bryn Mawr College, Smith College, and the University of Judaism. From 2005–2009, Lesléa was on the faculty of the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. From 2008–2010, she served as the poet laureate of Northampton, Mass. She has taught fiction writing at Clark University, and currently she is a faculty mentor at Spalding University’s brief residency MFA in Writing program.
Recent projects include “October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard,” a cycle of 68 poems that explores the imapct of Matthew Shepard’s murder upon the world (Candlewick Press, 2012); A Sweet Passover, a picture book that stars a little girl named Miriam who, by the last day of Passover is “sick, sick, sick of matzo” (Abrams, 2012); I Remember: Hachiko Speaks, a chapbook of poems written from the point of view of Japan’s famous Akita who waited 10 years for his master’s return (Finishing Line Press, 2012); and A Kiss on the Keppie, a picture book about a little boy who gets kisses from all family members (including his puppy, Dreidel) all day long (Amazon Children’s Publishing, 2012).
Cosponsored by the LGBT Commission.
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