Jukebooks: October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea Newman

13530012Matthew Shepard would have turned 38 years old this week.

Matthew’s story has been told many times since the night of October 12, 1998, when he was brutally beaten, tied to a fence, and left for dead. Matthew was killed because he was gay. In her award-winning novel, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, Lesléa Newman explores the tragedy from multiple viewpoints, writing in powerful free verse.

She writes:

two thin white tear tracks
one red swollen blood-caked face
this is someone’s child

Could it happen again? It can, and does, in large and small ways.

In 2013, an Irish musician named Hozier released the song, “Take Me to Church.” The dark, measured tone of the music, combined with Hozier’s sorrowful voice and heart-wrenching lyrics, call to mind the gravity of dangerous love. In creating this 2014 music video, it was Hozier’s suggestion to show two young male lovers. The fear it evokes reminds the viewer of Matthew Shepard, as well as countless unnamed men and women who have been tortured, and even killed, because they are gay.

-Diane Colson, who is currently reading How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon.

Novels in Verse for Poetry Month

national-poetry-monthYou are aware, I’m sure, that April is National Poetry Month. This brainchild of the Academy of American Poets has been celebrated since 1996, and the Academy’s website has a plethora of great ideas ideas of ways to celebrate, but why not celebrate by simply reading more poetry?

What’s that? Poetry is “too hard?” Do not fear iambic pentameter, sestinas, or villanelles! But if you would rather not attempt a sonnet, a haiku, or even a limerick, there is a great way to ease yourself into the world of poems: novels written in verse. The tales are so compelling and the verse so subtle, you won’t even realize you are reading poetry. Quite often, novels in verse tackle very hard subjects. It can be astonishing how authors cover deep, dark topics with just a few, perfectly chosen words.

Here are a few to get you started:

My Book of Life By Angel – Martine Leavitt mybookoflifebyangel
Angel is sixteen when Call gives her “candy” that makes her fly, and asks her to start sleeping with his friends. Soon, Angel is hooked on drugs and is working the streets as a prostitute. When Call brings home an even younger girl, Angel plans to escape this life she’s found herself in, and take young Melli with her. Leavitt’s books have appeared on multiple Best Books for Young Adults lists, and after reading her work, you will understand why.

freakboyFreakboy – Kristin Clark (2014 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)
Brendan seems to be a guy’s guy. He’s a wrestler, has a lovely girlfriend, and loves video games, but deep inside, he wants long hair and soft skin and a curvy body. Brendan is transexual and he’s trying to figure out who he is. He has never met anyone else who is like him, and he is frightend that he is “not normal”, whatever that means.

Continue reading Novels in Verse for Poetry Month