Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Help fund the Matthew Shepard/Laura Hershey Memorial Book Project

Dear Fellow activists, Writers, and Whoever may read this:

I am a poet from Western Mass who happens to also be a women with a disability. My friend and mentor Laura Hershey died suddenly (at least to me) the Friday after Thanksgiving. Laura was living in Colorado at the time. Her memorial service is scheduled for the 20th.

I, of course, planned on going. I also figured while I'm there I could visit the headquarters of ADAPT, an awesome organization dedicated to ending the institutional bias that plagues and threatens the daily lives of so many people with disabilities.

Then I heard fellow, queer woman, poet Leslea Newman speak about her visit to the Matthew Shepard fence. Upon looking at a map, I discovered that Laramie, WY is only 2 hours away from Denver.

Being a poet by trade myself, it seemed to me that there was a universal deep reason that the spot Matthew made infamous was located so close to my dear friend's memorial service. Laura, it seemed to me, was telling me to do something more with my visit than mourn her. I planned to visit ADAPT as scheduled and also to visit the Matthew Shepard fence as Leslea had done.

The loss of these two openly queer lights in world affected my world in ways to were unforgettable. Laura’s battle to live independently with her partner and daughter, her bringing of her entire queer, disabled, poet self to all events at all times, and her success at getting off SSI (a task I’m still working on), deeply influenced my life. When people asked me who I wanted to be like when I got older, I’d point at Laura and say, “her!”

When Matthew Shepard died, I was a 22-year-old who had recently graduated college. I was also a little, queer, chick in a wheelchair who lived in a somewhat backward area of Pennsylvania. I didn’t leave the house for 6 weeks. Until I realized that this was a disservice to the young martyr I’d never met.

What I need to make this project happen:

2 Airline tickets
(one for me, one for my personal care assistant- the person who helps me use the bathroom, get dressed and undressed, get in and out of my wheelchair)- approx $300
1 wheelchair van for use in Laramie WY- $100 per day
1 place to sleep in Laramie, WY- have a no step house and are welling to have me stay, or want to feed me, or lend me your van, please e-mail. The Project will be in your debt!
approx- $200
Total budget: $1200 (approx)

I am committed to seeing this book happen. I will have the whole manuscript edited by the Phillbrick Poetry Prize deadline of October 15th 2011. If Phillbrick doesn’t want it, someone will. If not, I’ll self-publish. If you give $10, you'll get a free book when this project publishes.

Thanks so much!

Martina Robinson


  1. I am so inspired! I look forward to reading your book.

  2. Hi Martha,
    I would like to contribute,but my laptop(firefox) does not trust this site So I am wondering if you can give me another route where I can pay or maybe you can assure me that this site can be trusted.
    I saw you on facebook via Shalini Bahl and I was moved by your story. I have a hearing lost and is struggling to believe myself as an artist. I can even claim that I struggle with being a sexual person in my own right even though I am not a lesbian. I do have bisexual tendencies but I never really came out with confirmation because I just don't overtly act on any sexual desires period.
    It would be great to get a book of poems from you.

    Dawn or facebook under Dawn Oughton

  3. Hey Dawn, so cool to see you here :) I actually thought of you when I met Martina - both are artists and out in the world living your dreams...

    Dawn, I got that message too about computer not being safe and went ahead and paid as it takes you to the safe paypal page after that screen. But if you are concerned about going this route, which I guess you should be, I have shared on facebook another way for you to make the payment.

  4. thanks.
    I paid via paypal. Thanks for thinking about me. I can't wait to see her book of poetry.