Though somewhat heavyhanded, these poems are sure to instill much-needed empathy and awareness to gay issues in today’s...

OCTOBER MOURNING

A SONG FOR MATTHEW SHEPARD

Nearly 14 years after the unspeakable tragedy that put Laramie, Wyo., on the hate crimes map, lesbian literary icon Newman offers a 68-poem tribute to Matthew Shepard.

Readers who were infants on October 6, 1998, may learn here for the first time how the 21-year-old Shepard was lured from a bar by two men who drove him to the outskirts of town, beat him mercilessly, tied him to a fence and left him to die. Ironically, months before Shepard’s murder, Newman had been invited to Laramie to speak at the University of Wyoming’s Gay Awareness Week and actually delivered her keynote address on the day he died. This cycle of poems, meant to be read sequentially as a whole, incorporates Newman’s reflections on Shepard’s killing and its aftermath, using a number of common poetic forms and literary devices to portray the events of that fateful night and the trial that followed. While the collection as a whole treats a difficult subject with sensitivity and directness, these poems are in no way nuanced or subtle. For example, Newman repeatedly employs personification to make inanimate objects, such as the fence, road, clothesline and truck, unwitting accessories to the crime, and she imitates William Carlos Williams’ “This Is Just to Say” false-apology format no fewer than four times with mixed results.

Though somewhat heavyhanded, these poems are sure to instill much-needed empathy and awareness to gay issues in today’s teens. (Poetry. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5807-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author.

CONTINUUM

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Deaf, trans artist Man meditates on his journey and identity in this brief memoir.

Growing up in conservative central Pennsylvania was tough for the 21-year-old Deaf, genderqueer, pansexual, and biracial (Chinese/White Jewish) author. He describes his gender and sexual identity, his experiences of racism and ableism, and his desire to use his visibility as a YouTube personality, model, and actor to help other young people like him. He is open and vulnerable throughout, even choosing to reveal his birth name. Man shares his experiences of becoming deaf as a small child and at times feeling ostracized from the Deaf community but not how he arrived at his current Deaf identity. His description of his gender-identity development occasionally slips into a well-worn pink-and-blue binary. The text is accompanied and transcended by the author’s own intriguing, expressionistic line drawings. However, Man ultimately falls short of truly insightful reflection or analysis, offering a mostly surface-level account of his life that will likely not be compelling to readers who are not already fans. While his visibility and success as someone whose life represents multiple marginalized identities are valuable in themselves, this heartfelt personal chronicle would have benefited from deeper introspection.

Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author. (Memoir. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-22348-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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