Poet, children’s book author and gay activist Leslea Newman coming to Pitt-Bradford Oct. 29

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Lesléa Newman

BRADFORD, Pa. – Lesléa Newman, the prolific poet and children’s book author who wrote “Heather has two Mommies” will give two talks Tuesday, Oct. 29, at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

At noon, she will present “It Takes a Village to Raise a Children’s Book Writer.” At 7:30 p.m., she will present “He Continues to Make a Difference: The Story of Matthew Shepard.” Both presentations will take place in the Mukaiyama University Room and are free and open to the public.

Newman is the author of more than 40 books for children and young adults, including “Heather has two Mommies,” the first children’s book to portray lesbian families in a positive way. Other popular youth titles include “Hachiko Waits,” “Fat Chance” and “A Sweet Passover.”

The evening program uses poetry, photographs and creative visualization to explore the impact of Matthew Shepard’s murder on the world. In 1998, Shepard was kidnapped, robbed, beaten and murdered in Laramie, Wyo.

Newman was the keynote speaker for the Gay Awareness Week at the University of Wyoming that year and arrived on campus the day that Shepard died. She spoke to a devastated campus and community and vowed to work to erase hate from that day forward.

Her most recent book, “October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard” explores the impact of Shepard’s murder in a cycle of 68 poems written as fictional monologues in a variety of voices, including the fence he was tied to, the stars that watched over him and a doe who kept him company.

She is the author of many books for adults that deal with lesbian identity, Jewish identity and the intersection between the two. Other topics she explores include AIDS, eating disorders and sexual abuse. Her award-winning short story “A Letter to Harvey Milk” has been made into a film and adapted for the stage.

Newman’s visit is part of Pitt-Bradford’s Spectrum arts series. It is co-sponsored by the Women’s Studies program and the LGBTS Alliance.

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