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October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard Hardcover – September 25, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (September 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763658073
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763658076
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* On October 6, 1998, 21-year-old Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming, was lured into a truck, driven into the country, savagely beaten, tied to a fence, and left to die—which he did, five days later. In the 68 poems that make up this novel-in-verse, Newman re-creates the events and circumstances surrounding this unspeakably vile hate crime and offers a moving tribute to a young man she regards as a martyr. Her poems are told from multiple points of view, including that of the fence, the rope that bound the boy, and a doe that stood watch over him. The beautifully realized selections are also written in a variety of forms, ranging from haiku to villanelle, from concrete poetry to rhymed couplets. Each form (discussed in an appendix) matches the tone and mood of its content, creating an almost musical effect that is both intellectually and aesthetically engaging. Written with love, anger, regret, and other profound emotions, this is a truly important book that deserves the widest readership, not only among independent readers but among students in a classroom setting, as well. Most importantly, the book will introduce Matthew Shepard to a generation too young to remember the tragic circumstances of his death. Grades 8-12. --Michael Cart

Review

"This is the one book I've reviewed so far this year that I believe must be read by everyone ages 14 and up. It takes less than an hour to read; but it will likely stay with the reader for a long time to come. Highly recommended for both YA and adult poetry collections." -- Ingram News and Reviews for the Youth Librarian

Written with love, anger, regret, and other profound emotions, this is a truly important book that deserves the widest readership, not only among independent readers but among students in a classroom setting, as well. Most importantly, the book will introduce Matthew Shepard to a generation too young to remember the tragic circumstances of hisdeath.
—Booklist (starred review)

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 19 customer reviews
This book needs to be read by everyone.
B. J. Neary
Perhaps one of my favorite elements of this book is the different point of views it offers, even the point of view of something that is not living--the fence.
Hannah
The fence that so sadly had to hold him up... And the mourning and fall out from a murder of hate.
knb

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By knb on June 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this one. I am a visual artist and do not express myself with words very well. That's one of the reasons I enjoy reading is finding beauty in words and the storytelling. The foreshadowing and mood setting with word choice. This is a different but beautiful art form. Poetry with iambic pentameter and rhyme schemes that I cannot figure out make it hard for me to get the beauty of the roll, the stops of the word. Concrete poems I understand, dual voice poems check, Haikus gotcha. But when it is important to a verse novel for me to understand the rhyming pattern and the emphasis of words, I feel like I lose some of the beauty reading gives me since I miss out on emphasis that I can later going back understand was foreshadowing to set the mood.

This book uses multiple types of poetry to tell basically a single paige point of view of someone or something that was present of affected by this hate crime. And while some do have the elements I don't like, the author has given an index of the poems numbered and described how the poem works in its place and what kind of poem it is. I recommend waiting till the end to look for ones you don't understand. It might breakup the thoughts and flows between poems.

So, this verse novel gives the events of a tragic murder of a gay boy named Matthew Shepard. I begins before he is killed, what he is thinking about in the club, when he is beaten and tied to a fencepost and ultimately dies. Multiple viewpoints are given throughout the book. What the stars saw, what the mothers of others felt for their sons. The fence that so sadly had to hold him up... And the mourning and fall out from a murder of hate. The sentencing, the hate-groups that agree...

It's deeply moving. interweaving different stories like yarn into a coherent start to finish book of what happened that night to the aftermath for the boy, his family, his killers, the community, and the LGBTQ community.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By doc peterson VINE VOICE on May 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Matthew Shepard was a 21 year-old University of Wyoming student who was beaten, tortured, tied to a fence and left to die, exposed to the cold in rural Wyoming. The crime was movtivated by hate: the two men who murdered him killed him because he was gay. I grew up not far from where Shepard died; it is revolting to me that people I know could do such a thing, and I sometimes struggle with understanding not only the brutality of the crime, but also the lack of compassion exhibited in the weeks following. _October Mourning_ gave me some perspective on this; it also gave me hope: there are people of conscience and compassion just as there are those who irrationally hate.

Newman's poems about the murder of Matthew Shepard and the subsequent trial and responses by others is incredible for so many reasons: first and foremost, her poetry is beautiful, haunting and powerful - at several points in reading her work, tears were brought to my eyes. The variety of poetry is also incredible: she writes in pantoums, villanelles, rhyming couplets, free-verse, haiku, list poems and several other forms of poetry with which I was previously unfamiliar (a glossary and explanation is provided at the back.) The variety of perspectives are incredible: Newman shows (as only poetry can) the persepctive of the fence to which Shepard was tied and left to die; of the bartender who let Shephard leave with the two murderers; of the girldfirends of the murderers, the prosecuting and defense attorneys, of the public, of Shepard's parents. The organization and presentation of the poetry is incredible.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By kbgressitt on January 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Why do we write poetry? Is it for ourselves as much as for others, a way to confront, explore, capture a fragment of enlightenment? Do we write poetry to cleanse us of corruption, remind us of our limitations, celebrate our vision, our diversity, to reveal a human tragedy in art?

In Lesléa Newman's new collection of poems, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, published by Candlewick Press, she does all of these things, to great effect and with aching sorrow.

Newman is an award-winning poet and author of such iconic books as Heather Has Two Mommies, and nine of her books have been Lambda Literary Award finalists.

In October Mourning, she shares the results of her years-long struggle to understand what happened to gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard on a deadly October night in 1998, outside Laramie, Wyo.

Newman had struggled to understand why Matthew was beaten, tied to a split-rail fence, and abandoned to death. To understand how two young men became brutal murderers, and what impacts the murders had on the world. To understand why a doe settled nearby Matthew and waited with the dying, why mothers tell their children not to talk to strangers. To understand what thoughts the prosecutor and defense attorney harbored, what groceries the $20 stolen from Matthew would have bought, why the fence was there, what Matthew might have done in the 18 hours that passed before he was found.
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More About the Author

Lesléa Newman is the author of 65 books for readers of all ages including the teen novel in verse, OCTOBER MOURNING: A SONG FOR MATTHEW SHEPARD; the middle grade novel, HACHIKO WAITS; the poetry collection, STILL LIFE WITH BUDDY; the short story collection, A LETTER TO HARVEY MILK; and the children's books, A SWEET PASSOVER, THE BOY WHO CRIED FABULOUS, THE BEST CAT IN THE WORLD, and HEATHER HAS TWO MOMMIES. Her literary awards include poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation. OCTOBER MOURNING: A SONG FOR MATTHEW SHEPARD was named an American Library Association 2013 Stonewall Honor Book, and A SWEET PASSOVER was named a 2013 Sydney Taylor Honor as well. A past poet laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts, she is a faculty member of Spalding University's brief-residency MFA in Writing program. Her newest poetry collection, I CARRY MY MOTHER is a book-length cycle of poems that explores a daughter's journey through her mother's illness and death. From diagnosis through yahrtzeit (one-year anniversary), the narrator grapples with what it means to lose a mother. The poems, written in a variety of forms (sonnet, pantoum, villanelle, sestina, terza rima, haiku, and others) are finely crafted, completely accessible, and full of startling, poignant, and powerful imagery. These poems will resonant with all who have lost a parent, relative, spouse, friend, or anyone whom they dearly love.

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