While teaching English to children with special educational needs and studying nursing at Penn State University, Chad Newton struggled to balance both roles.
“I started writing poetry as a kind of a therapy, you know, to help me get through it,” said Newton, now a nursing doctoral student at Temple University. “And it was sort of like an outlet because nursing school is very stressful, and teaching all day and then study to be a nurse and still do well.”
As a result, Newton published his first book, “75 Mostly Gay Poems,” through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, a free eBook and paperback-publishing service.
The book is a compilation of poems discussing the daily life of a gay man.
“The poems were inspired by things that my friends and I experienced,” Newton said. “Love is hard to come by, it can cause heartbreak and pain. So I shared that in my poetry.”
Each 12-line poem has 10 syllables in the first line, with every other line rhyming.
“The only challenges with writing the poems is maintaining the rhythm scheme throughout,” Newton said. “Keeping every line to ten syllabus was hard to do.”
Newton started writing the book in 2015, finished writing it last year and published it in September 2019. So far, he has sold 100 books, he said.
“I was never happy with the finished product, I kept going back and changing words and saying it’s too simple, and then I’d run it by my family or friends or students…” Newton said. “I went through a process, a difficult, lengthy process that I enjoyed every moment of.”
Initially, Jennifer Ibrahim, associate dean of the College of Public Health and Newton’s former professor, advised him through the publishing process.
“The poems tell his journey, and I think many other people can relate,” Ibrahim said. “The beauty of poetry is that the message lies in the reader and how it is interpreted.”
Going forward, Newton plans to keep writing poems about his daily life, covering a bit of his routine and health services track but mostly his sexuality.
In November 2019, Newton discovered the Philadelphia chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, a local group that reunites families and friends of LGBTQ individuals to support them on their journey about sexuality. He attended one of their meetings and spoke about his book.
Kim Otto, the president of the organization, believes Newton provided a window into the intersectionality of sexual orientation, race, culture and religion by sharing his experiences, he said.
”It’s important to hear the perspectives of individuals in the LGBTQ+ community and respect the differences while celebrating the similarities,” Otto said.