Lesléa Newman is the author of more than sixty books for children and adults, including the 2013 Stonewall Honor Book October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard.
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and on Long Island, and I have been writing poems and stories ever since I can remember. The first thing I ever published was a poem I wrote when I was a teenager, which appeared in Seventeen magazine. I studied poetics at a school in Boulder, Colorado, called Naropa Institute (now Naropa University), and where I worked with Allen Ginsberg, one of my heroes. I now live in Massachusetts with my spouse, Mary Vazquez, and our cat Princess Sheba Darling (who is very spoiled). When I am not writing, I am wishing I was writing! I also read a lot, do crossword puzzles, go to movies and plays, weed the garden, and play with the cat (when she’ll let me). In addition to writing, I travel around the country, visiting high schools, colleges, libraries, and other community settings to speak out against anti-gay bullying.
I have published more than sixty books for readers of all ages on all types of subjects. Often I’m asked which of my books is my favorite. I always answer, “The one I haven’t written yet!” My poetry collection, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, is a book that’s very dear to my heart and very important to me. If reading this book stops even one kid from bullying another, I will feel like I have done my job. I wrote the book by writing a poem a day for more than two months, and then going back over them to revise, revise, revise. I also did a lot of research: I read books, looked at videos, talked to people, studied the Matthew Shepard archives at the University of Wyoming, and visited the site where the hate crime that killed Matt took place.
Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:
1. I have a green belt in karate (Shuri-Ryu style).
2. I can turn a canoe on a dime (using a J-stroke or C-stroke).
3. I was once a clue in a New York Times crossword puzzle.