Sunday, April 28, 2013

Lesléa Newman - Teen Angels

Teen Angels
by
Lesléa Newman

Raymond Chase
Tyler Clementi
Billy Lucas
Asher Brown
Seth Walsh
Carl Walker-Hoover

19 years old
18 years old
15 years old
13 years old
13 years old
11 years old

Raymond Chase
Tyler Clementi
Billy Lucas
Asher Brown
Seth Walsh
Carl Walker-Hoover

“Fag”
“Faggot”
“Fairy”
“Sissy”
“Homo”
“Queer”

Raymond Chase
Tyler Clementi
Billy Lucas
Asher Brown
Seth Walsh
Carl Walker-Hoover

punched
slapped
kicked
chased
tackled
stripped

Raymond Chase
Tyler Clementi
Billy Lucas
Asher Brown
Seth Walsh
Carl Walker-Hoover

ashamed
afraid
enraged
depressed
defeated
alone

Raymond Chase
Tyler Clementi
Billy Lucas
Asher Brown
Seth Walsh
Carl Walker-Hoover

Hanged himself
Drowned himself
Hanged himself
Shot himself
Hanged himself
Hanged himself

Raymond Chase
Tyler Clementi
Billy Lucas
Asher Brown
Seth Walsh
Carl Walker-Hoover

Friend
Brother
Cousin
Teammate
Classmate
Mama’s Boy

"Teen Angels" copyright ©2013 Lesléa Newman. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Perhaps some or all of the six names in Lesléa Newman's Teen Angels were familiar to you before you read the poem, but I'd be willing to bet that now you'll remember them all the next time you see them... and you'll know why. What a powerful piece of writing!

Today's poem could easily be a companion to Lesléa Newman's most recent book, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shephard, a novel-in-verse that deals with some similar themes and issues (and uses many points of view (including many of the silent witnesses to Matthew Shephard's death, such as the fence to which he was tied). I just read it recently, and I have to say it simply sticks with me. Another book I highly recommend.

Whether in her standalone poems, novels, or picture books (over 20 of them, by the way, including the oft-challenged Heather Has Two Mommies), I think it's safe to say that Lesléa Newman writes from her heart, and we're the lucky beneficiaries. It's a phrase say frequently in April, but, darn it, it's true: I'm an unabashed fan... and I'm thrilled to have her here today as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday, John Foster showed us how to Add a Letter, Find Another Word. Tomorrow... Dave Crawley with Eye of the Hawk! For more on 30 Poets/30 Days and ways to follow along, please click here.

6 comments:

reflectionsontheteche said...

Wow! Powerful!

Linda at teacherdance said...

I'm sad to read the poem, but proud to say that we have Leslea's books in our library, & embrace all families and children in our school. Thanks Leslea for writing it like life is. And thanks Greg for having Leslea on your blog.

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Horrible and Beautiful, all at once. Thank you, Leslea, and thank you, Greg!
Lee

Charles Waters said...

It's important to remember that Poetry has a dark side. It is through the dark that we see light again. Thank you for this lesson Leslea and Greg.

tanita davis said...

A listing of woe, which raises the hair on my arms. And yet, the names I now will not forget.

Janet Wong said...

I so admire Lesléa's ability to pick the right forms and techniques. Repetition is the perfect device for this poem that makes us wonder: how many times must tragedies of this sort be repeated?