Friday, September 20, 2013

Poetry Friday: October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard

What You Can Do in Eighteen Hours

Write a term paper
Cram for a final

Fly across the ocean
Drive cross-country

Scale a mountain
Run a marathon

Deliver a baby
Read War and Peace

Fall in love
Fall out of love

See the moon disappear
Watch the sun rise and set

Wait to be discovered
lashed to a fence

Shivering under a blanket
of stars

October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard Leaslea Newman

On October 6, 1998, Matthew Shephard was kidnapped from a bar, beaten, tied to a fence, and left to die. 18 hours later he was discovered. 5 days later he died. He was murdered for being gay.

The week he died was Gay Awareness Week and Newman was the keynote speaker for the activities that the University of Wyoming’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Association were hosting. Shepard was part of that group, had helped plan the week.

It took Newman years to process this horrific crime and what resulted is this collection of poetry.

We can argue it’s an important book because of the subject matter. And it is. But HOLY SHIT is it just an amazing work of poetry.

Newman writes poems from multiple perspectives, both people and inanimate objects, and general poems, interspersed with quotations from the sheriff, the news, the murderers, and judge, and others.

Only Matthew’s voice is missing.

She plays with form to an amazing effect, each one carefully chosen to match the narrator and the content. It's more a chronological collection of poems rather than a cohesive verse novel.

The pure artistry makes this one a total gut punch. You will cry.

I was hesitant to pick it up. I’m so glad I did. I hope you do, too.

Today's Poetry Friday roundup is over at The Opposite of Indifference.

Book Provided by... my local library

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