Beyond Judy Blume: Portland, Our YA Forum is Next Week!

Ashley McAllister
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Logo that says Beyond Judy Blume: Identity and Sexuality in Young Adult Literature across a red banner with white flowers below it

Listen up, Beyond Judy Blume fans! Are you going to be in Portland next Thursday, November 8th? Do you have friends in Portland who love YA lit? We hope you'll join us for a conversation about identity and sexuality in YA lit.

The Beyond Judy Blume forum will provide a space to discuss how portrayals of sexuality and identity in YA lit has progressed in recent years, how YA lit reflects changing cultural views on youth identity and expression, and how YA lit can be used as a tool to empower youth.

We'll be talking with an interdisciplinary panel of educators and authors, to include:

Sara Ryan, who we did a Q&A with on the blog last week. Sara is the author of the novels The Rules for Hearts and Empress of the World, and of various comics and short stories on themes including but not limited to teen angst, Hellboy, joining the military, the 1962 escape from Alcatraz, and circuses. Her first graphic novel, Bad Houses, with art by Carla Speed McNeil, is forthcoming from Dark Horse Comics.

Michelle R. McCann has worked as a children's book editor for more than twenty years, shepherding hundreds of children's books into print. She has also written and compiled seven award-winning children's books of her own. Michelle has an MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College and currently teaches "Publishing for Young Adults" at Portland State University.

Vanessa F. La Torre is a Bilingual Youth HIV Education Coordinator in the Prevention and Education Department at the Cascade AIDS Project, and has been involved as a public health advocate and educator in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and the broader Latino community since 2003. Vanessa's professional experience focuses in cultural approaches to health promotion, program design and implementation, and cultural communications. She has worked closely with the HIV-positive Latino and Young Adult community, using a multilevel systems approach to promote and enhance participant engagement in health care services through empowering positive social networks that address the psycho-social needs of the community.

Carter Sickels is the author of the novel The Evening Hour (Bloomsbury). He has a letter published in the recent anthology The Letter Q: Queer Writers' Notes to Their Younger Selves (Scholastic), and a short story appearing in the new anthology The Collection: Short Fiction From the Transgender Vanguard (Topside Press). Carter earned his MFA in Fiction at Penn State University and his MA in Folklore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He now lives in Portland, Oregon. You can find Carter at

And our panel will be moderated by Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, a senior at Cleveland High School in Portland. She plays guitar and writes about music for her blog, The September Gurl, and is the Reviews Editor for the Cleveland Clarion. Her favorite YA novel is the 1967 classic The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton.

Portland State University's Smith Memorial Student Union
1825 SW Broadway, room 327
Portland OR 97201

Thursday, November 8th at 7pm

This event is FREE, open to the public, and wheelchair accessible. We sure hope you'll join us—don't forget to RSVP on Facebook! If you aren't able to make it but still have a question you'd like to ask the panel, let us know in the comments section.

Thanks to Portland State University's Women's Resource Center, The Sexual and Gender Minority Youth Resource Center, Cascade AIDS Project, Feminist Agenda PDX, Portland State University's Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department, In Other Words Feminist Community Center, KBOO Community Radio, and Willamette Week for supporting this program.

Oregon Humanities logoThis program was made possible in part by a grant from Oregon Humanities (OH), a statewide nonprofit organization and an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which funds OH's grant program. Any views, findings, and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Oregon Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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5 Comments Have Been Posted

I read Sara Ryans books and

I read Sara Ryans books and loved them. I will be there, cant wait!

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