I have a very exciting post to share with you today! Today, it’s all about this brilliant anthology Proud, compiled by Juno Dawson and published by Stripes Publishing. In the anthology, there are stories and poetry all to do with theme of pride with accompanying artwork. Along with a review from me, I’ll also be sharing a blog from artist Leo Greenfield about how he created his stunning piece of work. It’s really something special.
I saw this book a lot on Twitter with a lot of bloggers sharing and talking how much they loved this book. As soon as I saw it, I thought it was a genius idea, especially for younger readers. Also, that cover is just gorgeous. After being envious of everyone’s gorgeous posts, I asked for a proof copy and fell in love with this collection from the start. Here’s a brief blurb:
PROUD introduces four new LGBTQ+ YA authors published for the first time. Responding to a call for work from unpublished and unagented writers, Karen Lawler, Michael Lee Richardson, Cynthia So and Kay Staples submitted stories, which were chosen from over a hundred submissions. Stripes also invited aspiring LBGTQ+ editors to apply to shadow the book’s editor; as a result, Lucinda Tomlinson worked closely with Editorial Director, Rachel Boden, throughout the editorial process. PROUDcontinues Stripes’ commitment to giving a voice to marginalised experiences, addressing the need for more LGBTQ+ representation in UK publishing.
This collection of short stories and poetry explores a huge range of issues and the authors have took the theme of pride and made it into something of their own. From a beautiful story of teenage love, a queer youth choir, a Pride and Prejudice retelling (genius), a football team, coming out, and much more. I loved the variety of stories, characters and genre in this anthology – and this is also true with the authors too. There are four LGBTQ+ YA authors that are being published for the first time alongside some established YA authors.
I have folded so many pages in this book as I loved so many passages throughout. My favourites being: Penguins by Simon James Green – this story had me hooked from the start and made my heart sung. It’s a beautiful story of young love. I also loved As The Philadelphia Queer Youth Choir Sings Katy Perry’s Firework by David Levithan – seriously, this poem is just gorgeous and the artwork by Steve Antony is gorgeous too. The introduction by Juno Dawson is also brilliantly written and sets up the anthology great too.
But my absolute favourite has to be How To Come Out as Gay by Dean Atta. This is a favourite of mine for a number of reasons: it’s written beautifully and emotional but, for me, it’s a beautiful way to end the collection. It’s a really gorgeous poem that struck a chord with me. And, of course, the artwork by Leo Greenfield is gorgeous too.
Before I share with you Leo’s brilliant piece, I just want to say what a brilliant book Proud is. It’s more than a book, it’s a moment and something that needs to be heard. I can’t begin to imagine the power this book has, and will for years and years, on teenagers growing up that need somewhere to go for comfort, for acceptance. This book does that and more. It’s a comfort blanket, a safe place, a place where you are not alone and lost in stories, poetry and art that will make your heart sing, make you laugh, make you angry, but make you less alone. And you can’t dismiss the power of that. I hope this book is in every library, every school, every teenager’s bedroom. I know I would have loved to have something like this growing up. I can’t recommend this book enough.
Now, here’s Leo’s beautiful artwork to go with How To Come Out as Gay and his piece where he talks about his inspiration behind it all. I hope you enjoy.
Leo Greenfield on his illustration for Dean Atta’s poem ‘How To Come Out As Gay.’
Drawing for me is a daily practice, like keeping a diary my contributions are personal and made from real observations. I seek to capture simple moments in my drawing, from portraits of close friends and family to strangers on the street.
Celebrating intimacy is central to my work, the simple act of a handhold or hug is a moment worth drawing and remembering. Especially such moments observed within the LGBTQI+ community – my own community.
In creating the drawing for this project I began with the reading the poetry of Dean Atta. As I read and reread ‘How to come out as gay’, I continually felt affected by the following lines.
Be the fabric of his shirt the muscles in his shoulder, your shoulder
I think of drawing a little like I think of sport or a yoga class, you need to stretch first, you need quietly pick up your speed. Therefore I work on number of drawings at a time, making a sequence of images, laying them out in front of me and looking for a rhythm, looking for my own progression of speed.
Atta’s words made me think of two figures linked together, bound by their own intimacy and their courage in coming out. I firstly made drawings in ink, so these human forms would bleed together and I repeated them over and over, trying to let the figures in my drawing find their own composition.
The mention of muscles and of shoulders made me think the drawing needed to show strength, so I worked later in pencil to proceed with the project, I wanted the drawing to have a heaviness to it, to express the strength and force I felt in the lines of this poem.
I just love, love, love that artwork – it’s just so gorgeous and I loved Leo’s explanation and his process of creating something so beautiful. I’d love to have that framed somewhere! You can find more from Leo on his social media. You can find him on Instagram, and on Twitter. Just beautiful.
I hope you enjoyed today’s post and all about this brilliant book and I hope you loved Leo’s post too! I have never done that on my blog before! I hope you all love Proud as much as I did and find something that you can connect with. As I’ve said, this is a very special book that celebrates you for who you are, and what’s better than that?
A massive thank you to Charlie for the proof, and the guest post with Leo – it’s been a real treat – thank you! You can check out more of the blog tour here:
Again, thank you for reading and hope you love this book! If you’ve read it, what did you enjoy the most? Let me know in the comments!